The xx, Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Evening Standard, 11 Sept 2012

In the week that their second album comes out, it could be that The xx have painted themselves into a corner stylistically, with a sound so sparse that there aren’t many places to take it. In concert, however, the black-clad trio have found a way to present their minimalist musings with real theatre.

Disregarding the frustrating minority who inexplicably thought the comeback concert by one of Britain’s quietest bands was the ideal place for a natter, the group found a way to hypnotise with a dreamlike lightshow. First appearing behind a gauze screen with a drifting oily projection, they moved, backlit, under a shower of silver confetti, and eventually unveiled a giant boxy logo (an X-Box, if you like) during Infinity’s slow-building climax that filled with smoke and twinkling illuminations.

New songs that seem to lack substance on record gained power here, with ribcage-rattling bass dominating Missing, and a house beat thudding beneath Romy Madley-Croft’s soft voice on Sunset. More dance beats from producer Jamie Smith augmented the older song Shelter while Oliver Sim swayed from side to side, lost in his own groove. Barely there at times, by the end The xx looked like a band with genuine presence.

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