The xx

Venue: The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore
Date: 1st August 2013
Promoter: Now/Live
Review by: Hanis A.
Special Thanks: Dan and the Now/Live team

The xx definitely did not have enough of the Singaporean audience since the last time they were here back in 2010. Back for their first headlining concert, the xx even added another show to their stop in Singapore to accommodate the vast number of fans they have here. They played two simultaneous nights on August 1st and 2nd at the massive Star Theatre, and we were fortunate enough to indulge in one of their performances.

As swarms of wide-eyed fans entered the venue, DJ Mikail could be seen and heard spinning center stage. Playing for close to 45 minutes, he entertained the audience and eased their anxiety of waiting for their beloved indie-pop act to come out.

After what seemed like a whole hour, the xx finally came on. The long wait was absolutely worth it as they stepped out onto the stage with the ever so slick Try. Their set up was simple; all black everything, black outfits on black instruments on a black backdrop. All they really wanted the audience to enjoy was the music, so simplicity was key. However, there was no way anyone could forget the mesmerizing lasers and light work.

As the audience was eased into a more relaxed state with the moody blend of Oliver and Romy’s smoky crooning in Try, they moved on to the more upbeat Heart Skipped A Beat and their first ever single, Crystalised, two tracks from their previous album. This set the audience going. It suited the mood everyone was feeling – elation.

They played a balance of tracks from both their first and second album, and even performed a few tracks from Jamie’s solo projects. This was most apparent in the transition from the slow number, Reunion to Sunset. Reunion consisted of more samples and beats from Jamie so he blew the crowd away with his remix. He even included his own track, Far Nearer when transitioning into Sunset. Jamie xx definitely flexed his technical prowess that night and thoroughly impressed the audience. Romy and Oliver then took over with Missing, serenading the crowd into a quiet bliss.

Just as the audience began to quiet down, Oliver made a surprising move. He removed his guitar and grabbed a microphone, gliding across the stage while singing the words to Fiction. No one expected anything so suave from the quiet little band that was the xx.

As they moved on to perform Night Time and Swept Away, lasers were unleashed again and the audience watched in awe. Shelter and the crowd favourite, VCR, played soon after and everyone cried in unison to the familiarity of the melody.

They played Islands next, and as if they needed anything more than the music to impress the audience, the flashing lights that followed the subtle sound of the tapping cymbals really blew the crowd away. I have to say this was one of the best songs to experience live. Especially with the lyrics, “I am yours now”, easing the audience into the inevitable goodbye.

Romy, then took the lead this time around, playing Chained, an upbeat but mellow track. Oliver joined her to perform Infinity, one of the other songs that was executed brilliantly live. The softness in their voices, in contrast to the sharpness of the clapping and drumbeats, was amplified but incredibly, both came together so perfectly. This song and performance was the epitome of what the xx sound was, an amalgamation of soft, contrasting sounds that synchronize through intricate beats. It was a perfect song to assumingly end the performance.

After a long applause along with screams of encouragement, they came back with two encores, a longer and more intricately-filled remix of Intro, an aptly familiar number to allow the audience to settle into the fact that the night was coming to an end. To conclude the enthralling night, the xx played Angels, a beautiful track from their latest album, assumingly to reassure the crowd of their love of the Singaporean audience. Whatever it was, the xx played beautifully for their fans and no one was left dissatisfied.

As usual, Oliver, Romy and Jamie were so grateful to the audience, who were most probably much more appreciative of them. Hopefully, they see more than enough reason to come back to our little island.