Gig Review: The XX at Brixton Academy, London


The XX launched their third album  in style with a seven-night residency at London’s iconic Brixton Academy. George Mcmillan reviews…

The XX are a band who I have wanted to see since I was 13-years-old, so I eagerly picked up tickets and impatiently awaited my turn to see the London based band.

They burst onto the stage playing one of the lead singles from their new album ‘Say Something Loving’, and looked confident, cool and comfortable. Although amidst all the funky beats and lights I noticed that lead singer and guitarist Romy was wearing the same blouse as my mum, which made me question- has my mum become a trendsetter, or is Romy so incredible unprecedented that she now wears aging women’s clothing to make a statement. Thankfully this was short lived as the light show progressed mesmerising with the aid of huge mirrors on either side of the stage and painted the whole venue in a stunning array or colours. You’d expect nothing less from a band that practically rewrote the book on how to create an aesthetic, believe it or not Matt Healy does not hold a patent over the colour combination of black and white…

Next was ‘Crystalised’ a track from their 2009 debut which was met with an explosion of screams and applaud from the audience. The crowd, although vocally very responsive lacked the physical energy that you might expect from a gig that had sold out in a matter of minutes, whether this was due to the substances a lot of the crowd appeared to be on (a suspicious amount of people seemed to be routinely heading towards the toilets throughout the evening, unless the band have a fan base primarily built up of people with weak bladders this to me suggested something else was going on) or just because they were truly appreciating the music I could not tell but this didn’t seem to phase the band. Singer and Bassist Oliver then stopped to tell everyone how much the evening meant to them, at one point even choking up slightly.

Halfway through their set The XX invited friend and front woman of the band ‘Savages’, Jehnny Beth, onto the stage to perform ‘Infinity’ with them, her powerful vocals contrasted with the timid, soft sound of Romy. She comfortably strutted round stage with the band dancing along to the song smiling before giving hugs all round and exiting the stage again.

During the five year break that the band took in-between albums, the third member of the band Jamie had taken some time out to release a solo project under the name ‘Jamie xx’. Maybe with a hunch that a proportion of their audience were here to see his skillset at work the band worked in remixes of some of their own songs giving Jamie a chance to show off his talents throughout the night. This included a rework of their track ‘Chained’ which was backed by a sample from the chorus of the ‘Shanks & Bigfoot’ 90’s hit ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ and his own track ‘Loud Places’ which features the vocals of Romy. The bands encore was initiated via a two-minute instrumental by the Grammy award nominated DJ before they broke into their new track ‘On Hold’.

The band finished on the opening track of their second album ‘Angels’ dedicating it to their support acts, an odd choice of song considering it largely consists of solo guitar players and vocals but it was arguably the best received song of the night. As I headed out of the venue to try and beat the queues into the train station I saw about twenty grown men wiping tears from their faces. This for me confirmed the bands incredible ability to connect with their audience and it was clear why they had chosen to play such a small and personal venue, their songs mean so much more when played in an intimate environment, they would not translate or have the same meaning had they performed in a larger venue.

This fan captured The XX in action during one of their Brixton performances: