by Justin Trudell
The XX put on an incredible show at the Masonic Temple in Detroit that satisfied every fan – from the newly acquired, to those who were onboard all along. The moody, depressed teenager that released an absolute classic self-titled debut album showed how far they’ve come without abandoning who they are. In the words of Double Down Trent from Swingers: The XX are all grows up!
The set list in Detroit brilliantly paralleled the musical evolution of The XX. Opening the show was the semi-mainstream single “Say Something Loving”. They then struck up the opening notes to “Crystalised” and the crowd went absolutely nuts. So much so Oliver had no choice but to address the overwhelming applause once the track concluded. “Detroit,” Oliver said with a grin and a laugh, “we’re so happy to be here tonight.”
Next, they played another of their biggest hits from their debut album, “Islands”, to yet another eruption of admiration. They continued to mix the next few songs between their second and third albums. Romy Madley Croft then addressed the crowd to tell us she would be playing the next song by herself. Which she nervously admitted, “is incredibly scary”. The adoring Detroit crowd immediately shouted words of encouragement and support. Several different “We love you!” remarks led to Romy’s “I love you, too.” The spotlight then fixed on only her playing “Performance,” as band mates Jamie Smith and Oliver Sim sat nearby watching from the darkness. It was an incredibly emotional moment from a group that has established a deeper connection with their fans than most other bands.
The signature of The XX is the intimate nature of their songs. When listening to an album, you feel like they’ve invited you into their most comfortable space and opened up about everything; what makes them sad, what makes them happy, and what makes them scared. Fans of The XX have a connection much different than other bands. We know Jamie, Oliver and especially Romy. We feel them, which is why their new album appropriately reciprocates this feeling to the fans, I See You.
The debut single from I See You, “On Hold” apparently experienced a technical issue in the middle of the song. However, the crowd had no idea. The music halted, and Oliver stopped singing. Naturally, the Detroit crowd decided to take it upon themselves to finish by shouting the lyrics we all know so well. Oliver then told us, “We actually messed up…but that was absolutely beautiful!”
Perhaps the most impressive part of the show was the last 4-5 songs that were melded together as one with the help of Jamie’s dance beat interludes. The remix of “Shelter” took the feeling of heartbreak, to one of hope and growth thanks to the added tempo and layers from Jaime. Shelter was then slowly churned into an incredible rendition of (Jamie XX solo album track) “Loud Places” with a glorious rainbow of lights bathing the crowd. The soulful chorus of “Loud Places” seemed to hit a higher level than anything else had for the night. It was a religious experience. It was absolutely mesmerizing and it made my heart soar with joy. The influence of Jamie’s solo album, In Colour, was prevalent on the new album, and it helped the vibe of their live performance.
Just as they’ve grown from teens to adults, their show and music has grown, too. The XX started with their most recognized hits, became emotional and deep, then ended with a flourish of happiness and optimism. It was interesting, emotional and beautiful, just like life.
SETLIST (via Setlist.fm)
Say Something Loving
I Dare You