The kids from Putney have just released their second album to effusive praise from the media; in person they are just as affecting...
Can anyone please tell me why X’s possess such symbolic sexual value? From the highest end of the scale, the oft-frowned upon triple X, all the way through to the singular mark of affection that you have most probably have received at some point today, it’s fair to say there is something undeniably sultry and seductive about the letter.
I will spare you the trauma of reading an essay on my half baked linguistic enquiry into the sexual allure of the 24th letter of our alphabet and instead tell you why giving two young people with great voices and opposing genders, a bass, a guitar, a set of black clothes, a prodigal producer and a band name like The xx was always destined to produce sexy music, sexy music that I bore witness to first-hand at the BBC Maida Vale Studios.
The host of the performance, BBC Broadcaster Steve Lamacq, introduced the set with a brief history of The xx’s relationship with BBC Radio 6, which in turn made me anticipate a somewhat symbolic performance, due to the fact that it was there that their careers were first kick-started back in 2009.
In choosing the venue as one of the first places in London to showcase their new material you would assume they were signifying a landmark in their personal and musical evolution with the release of Coexist while at the same time paying homage to the venues role in their whirlwind journey to global recognition. But then again, maybe I’m just reading too much into it.
It seems nothing has changed for the unlikely kids from Putney, as they took to the stage with the same trademark coyness they possessed from the first series of gigs
Either way you might have expected them to become veterans in the art of performance by now, seeing as their musical odyssey has put them in front of a swathe of audiences the world over.
Yet it seems nothing has changed for the unlikely kids from Putney, as they took to the stage with the same trademark coyness they possessed from the first series of gigs. Perhaps it was BBC6′s early role in their career that evoked such feelings of apparent shyness three years on, but in all honesty I don’t think they have yet got used to the surreal dynamics of fame, which only adds another layer of intrigue to their near-flawless six-track performance.
They started off with their first single from Coexist, ‘Angels’, which I’m confident has overtaken Robbie Williams as the definitive song with this title. I understand it’s not the most complex song ever written, but even so, it sounded as clear, crisp and atmospheric as it does in the trippy music video. I could see the eyes of the audience swell with emotion as Romy’s lush vocals swamped the room with her intimate odes to her lover laid bare, every now and again looking at Oliver in the eyes as she spoke of “being as in love with you as I am.”
They brought the audience back to more familiar musical terrain with next track ‘Crystalized’ , followed by the virtually unheard but equally enchanting tracks from Coexist, ‘Reunion’, ‘Sunset’ and ‘Fiction’, with a mash up of ‘Intro’/’Tides’ as their somewhat anti-climatic closer. Just plain old ‘Intro’ would have been good enough for me.
The three of them played their set in what seemed like slow motion. Their movements were calm and soft yet effortlessly authoritative in their musical command, no more than with Jamie XX and his series of alternating drum pad hits, switch flicking, symbol bashing and cursor clicking.
Their movements were calm and soft yet effortlessly authoritative in their musical command
The substantial distance between Romy and Oliver was bridged with the mutually heartfelt verses they continuously exchanged back and forth, and for a second, an almost convoluted waltz developed between them as they swayed back and forth seemingly in synchronization.
The xx has, and will always be about them. Through their lifetime of friendship Romy and Oliver have developed the profound ability to channel the love they feel for their lovers, through each other. The audience played their parts as witnesses to this mysterious and cryptic romantic play and their verdict was one of collective awe, intersected with periods of rapturous applause after every song and a humbled Oliver offering hushed thanks into the microphone.
It reaffirmed everything that I love about the band- the wisdom and maturity beyond their years, the sincerity, the simplicity, the undeniable talent, and most of all their ability to leave a whole room of people of all ages in collective awe. Put simply, they are a testament to the beauty of youth.
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