Images Dominic Phua
This is the second concert in Singapore for the English three-piece band, so if you’ve missed out on the last concert in 2013 like me, then this is your first and only taste of what Jamie, Oliver, and Romy have to offer on stage as part of their I See You tour, following the release of their third album of the same name. Since its debut, I See You is a clear departure from their two previous records, xx and Coexist, where minimalistic indie-electronic sounds are sported. Their latest art piece takes a huge leap musically and shifts to a more experimental sound where clanging beats and samples are meshed together by the band’s ingenious producer Jamie xx.
The live show however, didn’t stray too far from The xx we’re familiar with by combining the band’s signature sound with newer and more upbeat tunes from their third record. Filled with impeccable vocal harmony and an overall balanced setlist that gave longtime fans a nostalgic trip, The xx delivered the best of both worlds (old and new) through a standout performance from each individual member.
What’s interesting about The xx is how they demolish the pre-show expectation you have of them. As a band with only three members and an iconic, simple sound, I was held back by fear that the show would be stale. It was hard to imagine how the band can liven up a crowd with such minimalistic and melancholic tunes until they commenced the show with ‘Intro’, the popular opening track of their debut self-titled album that won the Mercury prize. The instrumental kept the crowd entertained, but the cheering was still low. It was only after ‘Intro’ ended that the crowd lit up in screams and claps, it finally hit everyone that one of the world’s biggest indie acts is there right in front of us.
‘Crystalised’ came in second, bringing everyone together for a quick singalong session and a trip of feels leading back to where it all started. It brought the cheering audience to a state of calm before they transitioned to ‘Say Something Loving’, which gave the band an opportunity to fill the stadium with a more upbeat atmosphere. Jamie utilised the song to play around with electronic drums that ensured a head shake here and there; Romy then sang the words “I don’t have to leave anymore,” indicating the start of ‘Islands’ – where we see Oliver and Romy doing their thing on the guitars, playing riffs of songs we all memorised by heart.
The focus of the tour is of course the I See You album as a whole, so when the brass instrumental on ‘Dangerous’ kicked off, everyone knew it was time to boogie all the way until the track ended with the grand bass line played by Oliver. ‘I Dare You’ left the crowd enamoured of the duo that were Oliver and Romy, whose voices went so well together live as it did on record. The chorus of ‘I Dare You’ echoed gleefully around the stadium, as everyone began to warm up with the set and each other. The xx kept their fans at the edge of their seat by shuffling older songs with newer ones, however, Romy stole the spotlight mid-show for an emotional delivery of her solo track ‘Performance’ – sung through breathless belts and whispers.
Anyone familiar with The xx would know that the band is unlike any other band under the genre of indie. Instead of catchy, the trio focuses on making a song uncomplicated yet unique. Towards the end of the night, the band went on to prove their inimitable style as Jamie took over the deck to give viewers one last piece of what The xx would sound like if combined with his solo debut album In Colour. Released in 2015 under Yung Turks, In Colour is described as a memory capsule and Jamie, a memory artist. Before ending the show, Jamie performed his song ‘Loud Places’ with Romy, who gave the moody beat some depth as the song’s sample of ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’ surrounded the stadium with euphoria.
The stage lit up with camaraderie between the three members, who continuously thanked their audiences for being so welcoming and warm. It was admittedly a very mild crowd, but the band – assisted with Jamie’s knack for floor-filling bangers – turned the whole arena into a dance party. The ending saw couples staring longingly at each other, while friends sang out loud with their hands up in the air. That’s the effect of The xx, and as I sat there being completely enthralled by trio, I’ve come to the conclusion that Romy is the heart of the group, Oliver the body, and Jamie the mind. Together, they move in perfect unison and that behind all the success they’ve garnered throughout the years, it’s their powerful friendship that shows both on record and on stage.
The xx’s show in Singapore’s Indoor Stadium was part of their I See You tour in Asia. The concert went down on 25 July ’17 and JUICE got to witness it live thanks to Love Da Records.