Jamie Smith, the quietest member of the world’s quietest band, The xx, launched his debut solo album with what sounded like a pretty low-key event: a DJ set in an east London church. As it happened, it felt more like the delirious last gathering of a doomsday cult. A cavernous room so packed that dancing was challenging, shafts of glitterball light pinging off every surface, and an expansive mix of music that was wilder than his tasteful recorded material.
His album, In Colour, is a beauty, a journey through the history of electronic music that rubs clattering old school rave against soft digital melancholy and will surely cause Mercury Prize judges to swoon later this year. Here he played most of it, as well as some of the songs from which he lifted his samples: the rumbling doo-wop of I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times, the shimmering space disco of Loud Places. Gosh was the standout, its harsh beginning opening out into a glorious wash of synths.
A sound failure halfway through didn’t last long enough to kill the celebratory mood. A clever light show held the attention, shining through the church windows from outside. Smith kept his head down and allowed that, and his stunning new music, to speak for him.