This is the third time The XX were here and I have been fortunate to see them twice. They have become a well-oiled machine now. They burst on the scene in 2009 with their debut album that has become an instant classic. The minimalist and atmospheric soundscape just leaps out of my speakers, and coupled with two distinctive voices in Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim, the music feels monolithic, yet unshowy and understated.
I know some friends didn’t dig their third and newest album, I See You, this year, but I love it. It is definitely a departure from their laid back high-on-atmosphere sound, but I found it so celebratory and groovy once I have come into terms with the fact the band doesn’t want to do another XX or Co-exist. For their new album, Jamie Smith, the dude at the back gets thrust into the limelight. He gets to remix that distinctive XX sound to become a different animal. I love a band that grows and dares to throw a spanner in the works, and The XX has my love and respect.
I enjoy going to gigs, especially to the ones whose music I love a lot. It is only at gigs that the music that I have spent hours curled up with takes on a transcending level. The music of The XX has practically become the soundtrack of my life – I can look at a scene in real life and scored it to their music in my head. I have lost count on the number of times I played Intro, off their first album, in class before a major presentation and see the kids get excited. It is also at gigs, with thousands of head-bobbing fans, that I know I am not alone and that’s a comforting thought.
The bass on the evening was heavy and heart-thumping, and the band was in their element. They owned the stage. 8 years on, Romy and Oliver still retained that tentative quality in their voice. They still sounded like they couldn’t believe they have become so big. I love how they changed up some of the perennial favourites which gave the tunes a breath of fresh air. The last half hour was practically a Jamie XX show and the venue became a giant discotheque. It was a great night!
Next up is a Chinese gig – G.E.M. (鄧紫棋) 😊
Here’s looking at you, Oliver.