The XX returned to Australia last week and treated those lucky enough to snap up a ticket to a performance at the Metro theatre in Sydney. Support act, Flume started the show and, despite having quite a bit of airplay and gaining popularity with awesome mixes of Hilltop Hoods and Ta-Ku, did not seem to draw in a crowd, as people seemed unable to tear themselves away from the lure of vodka Red Bulls at the foyer bar.
The headlining trio, Romy Madley-Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, took to stage (twenty minutes late) in a haze of smoke, and began the set with Angels, the first single from the soon-to-be-released album, Coexist. Usually I generally dislike bands showcasing new material at gigs, due to unfamiliarity, but Angels, despite only being released to the world a fortnight ago, still had the majority of the audience joining in and singing the chorus. The band took songs from their solid self-titled debut which excited fans, including Heart Skipped a Beat and Basic Space. These slower-paced numbers were pleasing singalong tunes, but the faster, more textural, pulsating tracks induced more of a reaction. Midway through the set the band played new material from the forthcoming album, this instrumental number had a club dance-floor vibe and seemed as though it were influenced by the steel-drum driven Far Nearer taken from Jamie’s solo album. It was an attack on the senses, blasting beats and smoke machines, with lazer beams scattering over the crowd as a projected psychedelic visual danced across the screen and spilled onto the band as they worked harmoniously to make the sounds. Another standout track was Infinity, a duet that reeked of passion and sex, with the transition of each singer, the pace fastened, the lights projected over the stage as Romy sang, “I can’t give it up to someone else’s touch” finishing with a climatic ending of blaring noise and light flooding the stage.
For an electronic driven outfit, the sensuality and the organic nature of the vocals of both Romy and Oliver is bound effortlessly with the precise drum machine beats and computer samples. Both strong vocalists project lyrics with delicacy and softness and often have a haunting effect that is woven through the tracks. But, they in no way overshadow the percussion and sounds created live on stage by Jamie, who makes clean, precise accompaniment with various computerised instruments.
I eagerly await the new album Coexist after hearing snippets at their gig. It is set to be released on 11 September.
Review by Carol Bowditch