The xx, April 6th 2013 @ Hordern Pavilion

James McBride on 9 April 2013 in Gig Reviews


The xx

Though Hordern Pavilion was a sell-out, at times the crowd were so awestruck you could hear a pin drop.

The cause of their (totally justified) awe was British indie minimalists, The XX, performing the first of their two sold-out shows at the venue.

The night began in the strongest way possible, with Sydney indie dance act Jagwar Ma delivering a mesmerising performance to their hometown crowd.

Beginning an impressive set with the song ‘What Love?’, as featured on the videogame FIFA13, the Sydneysiders heavy use of vocal effects and synth created a psychedelic effect.

Paired with a hypnotic light show, the tone for the evening was set early on.

As their performance went on, Jagwar Ma went from strength to strength, showing great energy and ability, and delivering a fascinating, truly enjoyable performance.

As the lights dimmed for the main event, the crowd’s dull murmur became a frantic cry.

Throughout the early stages of the set, the Londoners played largely from their sophomore album, 2012’s Coexist. Starting with the haunting ‘Try’ and ‘Chained’, crowd favourite ‘Reunion’ followed soon after, with the token contribution from their self-titled 2009 debut being the ever-popular ‘Crystalised’.

Sandwiched between covers of band member Jamie Smith’s ‘Far Nearer’, and Kings of Tomorrow’s ‘Finally’, was ‘Sunset’, which really epitomised so much of what makes The XX so terrific.

Guitarist Romy Madley Croft’s soulful, emotional vocals, complimented by her own haunting guitar riffs and flowing slides from bassist Oliver Sim, all performed over nightclub dance beats, create a unique sound, and ultimately a truly beautiful experience.

As the set wore on, more and more tracks from 2009’s XX made an appearance.

The last few tracks injected a bit more energy into the mesmerised Sydney crowd. The more poppy ‘VCR’ and ‘Islands’, the final two singles from their debut, set up a more upbeat finale.

These two songs further demonstrated the brilliant harmonies between Madley-Croft and Sim, and the terrific way their voices complement one another.

Though the light display had been terrific throughout, matching perfectly with drum beats and tempos, as the set’s final songs were played, a giant, light up X, was revealed at the rear of the stage.

As the giant logo changed from white, to pastel purple and blue, and back again, it added a further haunting aspect to the set’s final song, ‘Infinity’; hundreds upon hundreds of cameras were held aloft to get a quick photo of the band, before they made a low key exit.

However, this exit lasted a grand total of about two minutes before it was encore time.

Though the encore was only two tracks, they made them count. The first, the instrumental ‘Intro’ from their debut album was a welcome inclusion, showing that despite their amazing lyrics and vocal performances, this band don’t need words to create an amazing, emotional experience.

As they bid the audience goodnight for a second time, it was obvious to all which song The XX would go out on. ‘Angels’, the lead single from Coexist, was met with a roar from the largely reverent masses.

They had definitely saved the best for last. Between the poetic lyrics, the delicate bass line, and an angelic guitar riff, it was obvious why the crowd had anticipated the song in the way they did.

This concert was a joy to behold. Not simply playing their songs the way they are on recordings, The XX tinkered and played, creating not only a unique experience for concert-goers, but a true display of the talent these three young artists possess.

Between all of their core elements, not to mention and fantastic support act in Jagwar Ma, The XX really displayed to the Sydney crowd why they are one of the most acclaimed indie acts on the planet today.


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