The xx, Alsterdorfer Sporthalle, Hamburg, Germany
When I last saw the xx, they were performing two spellbinding Christmas shows in the Olympia. Since then, these three shy kids from London have magically metamorphosed into an arena-headlining monster. The xx will be headlining Bestival and Primavera this summer, and expect an imminent Electric Picnic announcement any day now.
Reaching this phenomenal level of success is partly due to Jamie xx’s blossoming solo career. Given the fact that both Romy and Oliver both sung on In Colours, you could almost make a case for I See You, which went to number one in Ireland, actually being their fourth album.
Jamie still commands the stage as the silent, non-singing engine room of the band. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim sing their hearts out, pausing to give a shout out to Sim’s mother and sister in the audience, and recalling that ten people came to their first show in Hamburg.
Now, 7,000 people cram into Hamburg’s Sportshalle for the third date of their world tour to promote their third album, I See You. They open with ‘Dangerous’, its brilliant breakbeat driven opening track. Romy and Oliver face each other to perform their breakthrough single ‘Crystalised’, while Jamie gives it absolute socks.
The production is on a scale the xx have never done before, expanding on the mirror cover of I See You. They throw a curve ball into the set with a great cover version of Drake’s ‘Too Good’, which they completely transform into their own.
Another pleasant surprise is Jamie xx’s ‘Loud Places’ that closes the main set. They encore with ‘On Hold’, ‘Intro’ and ‘Angels’. It still seems far too short, which I mean very much as a compliment, as they still play twenty songs and for well over an hour and a half.
The festival merry-go-round and Electric Picnic beckons. On this evidence, it’ll be a cake walk for them. The pleasure will be all ours.
Say Something Loving
Too Good (Drake cover)
Brave for You
A Violent Noise
I Dare You
Loud Places (Jamie xx cover)