The xx, Brixton Academy,London, review: Carefully-curated homecoming run was worth the wait

The fact that The xx – who hadn’t released an album in five years – sold out seven consecutive nights in London alone is almost unfathomable.

But January’s I See You has led to this week-long residency titled Night + Day, supported by club nights, cinema-screenings and a radio show.

For the shy and retiring trio of south Londoners, it’s a vast carefully-curated homecoming gig that took a year to plan.

With a stage composed of ethereal pink clouds and huge silver-cladded spinning columns with an angled mirror above (emulating their album cover), the backdrop is formed for an electric show of rainbow projected lights. 

DJ Jamie Smith is elevated on his own stage surrounded by his plethora of keyboards and drums, from which he powerfully fills the room with his electronic beats while still enthusiastically bopping around as if he’s doing it for the first time.

Singer-guitarist Romy Madley Croft and singer-bassist Oliver Sim front the show – and joined briefly by friend Jehnny Beth who provides some real movement on the stage.

Opening with ‘Say Something Loving’, Oliver Sim’s velvety deep tones sing “I just don’t remember the thrill of affection” as if giving the reason for their week-long residency at the venue – where all three went to their first gigs.

Their intensity has grown up; it’s powerful and convincing, removed of their insular moody angst and melancholic tones.

Instead they’ve found a matured futuristic and soulful version of their own pop – without losing their love of black clothing or introverted awkwardness.

But still, Romy claims, they’re still as nervous on day five as they were on their first night here – hard to believe considering the crowd reaction and electric feel throughout.

She takes centre stage to sing solo, voice is timid almost as if she’s whispering. But stealing the show is Smith – using 2000’s Shanks and Bigfoot’s ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ as a mash-up to their ‘Dangerous’, moving on into ‘Chained’ and followed by his own ‘Loud Places’.

An encore sees the eagerly awaited ‘On Hold’ and ‘Intro’, finishing with a beautifully heartfelt rendition of “Angles”. With this Brixton collaboration, The xx have finally stepped out of their first album’s shadows.

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