A sold out Metro Theatre played home to the mega-popular London trio The XX and their sole support act, local beat-maker Flume in one of the most anticipated tours of the year. So anticipated in fact that a lottery had to be held for potential ticket-buyers earlier this year.
On entry, the talented Flume quietly took to the decks and gave us some well-crafted productions, reminiscent of acts like Flying Lotus and Toro Y Moi. The sound of future beats was more than welcome and surprisingly, felt like a perfect introduction The XX’s dark indie pop.
It was time for The XX and as the three young artists took to the stage it was clear lighting would play a very big part in the hour-long set. Romy Madley Croft opened with the recent ‘Angels’ whilst engulfed in a beautiful, bright purple aura, ensuring that every eye was now set firmly on the stage right before the awesome blue strobe lighting kicked in – it was the most visually spectacular moment of the night. Bassist Oliver Sim chimed in for the popular ‘Islands’ with his unbelievably affecting voice (the many girls around me would not stop swooning), setting off that beautiful interplay between Croft’s vocals and that of his own.
The playful handclaps of ‘Heart Skips a Beat’ got the crowd involved before Sim took solo duties with a new track (seemingly titled ‘friction’ or ‘vision’) that left me in absolute awe – a very promising preview of their upcoming second LP Coexist.
The sing-a-long section was up next with a flurry of fan-favourites, starting with ‘Basic Space’ and ‘Infinity,’ leading into the cute ‘VCR,’ and moving on with a stripped down version of ‘Crystallized.’ However, it was ‘Shelter’ which stole the show, given that it came with a dazzling introduction complete with a beautiful guitar riff via Croft.
A few minor technical issues did not manage to detract from the life The XX gave their songs on stage, with excellent lighting to compliment the ever-changing vibe controlled by our two distinct vocalists. This was perfectly conveyed by a couple of new songs which indicated that The XX have a much larger range of moods on offer with their sophomore LP. There was the familiar bitter-sweet darkness, and then there was the uplifting lo-fi house that is currently making their producer Jamie Smith (Jamie XX) a respectable name in the industry. Said house music rounded out the main set while Croft even teased with a riff from Smith’s remix of Gil-Scott Heron’s ‘I’ll Take Care of You (made popular by Drake) – it was the only time The XX managed to shed their signature gloom and appear to have some fun on stage.
The two-song encore ended with the lovely ‘Stars,’ stripping away the gorgeous lighting and simply displaying two young and talented singers playing off each other with adorable lyrics - an unpretentious farewell, fitting for a band which has become the crème de la crème of lo-fi indie pop.
My only disappointment was that no room was made for ‘Do You Mind,’ but the handful of new XX material in addition to the near-perfect live translation of their beloved anthems was more than enough to walk out of the venue feeling completely satisfied. Here’s hoping they return soon to play some much bigger venues, if given some room to flex their creative muscles, I’m confident the next XX show will be something you won’t want to miss.