Tue 11 Sept
words: ANGHARAD BROWN photos KAIT MORDEY
Since its announcement in July, this gig has been eagerly anticipated. Without surprise, it was also a sell-out for the London-based band. Set in the incredible Coal Exchange, which is currently under threat from being made into a block of flats, the promoters couldn’t have chosen a more atmospheric and perfectly suited venue. The dark intimidating wood interior perfectly matched both the sounds of The xx and their support band 2:54 – whose unmemorable songs I sadly struggled to enjoy, although they weren’t helped by the sound being less than great for their set.
The xx opened their set with Angels – the first song on new album Coexist, released the day before the show – and from then on in managed to flit between their two albums seamlessly. On one occasion Jamie Smith teased the audience with the immediately recognisable riff from his remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s I’ll Take Care Of You. Crowd members unfamiliar with the band’s new tracks were kept happy with incredible renditions of Crystalised, VCR, Heart Skipped A Beat and an uptempo version of Shelter; yet the highlight of debut album xx had to be Infinity, which closed the performance before the encore. The strobe lighting created an impressive audio-visual effect that perfectly suited the echoing, at times haunting music.
After a brief moment off stage – and after working the hipster crowd into something of a frenzy – they came back on to perform Intro, the opening song from xx, and two more songs before closing the night with Stars. During the encore, Oliver Sim gave a sincere apology for not having previously played in Wales before Romy Madley-Croft stated how much they’d enjoyed the gig. Something I think most people in the room would concur with – certainly, and thankfully, they lived up to my high expectations.