The xx with Sampha at Doug Mitchell Thunderbirds Sports Centre 25/4/17
Seven thousand people drifted off into another realm of reality at The Doug Mitchell Thunderbirds Sports Centre this past Tuesday night (April 25), where English dream pop/indie electronic band The xx played a sold-out show for their I See You tour.
Given the secluded location of the arena, it was relatively empty when the opening soul singer, Sampha, played his very first show in Vancouver. Despite his incredible vocal range and keyboarding skills, the audience seemed disengaged, their chatter echoing through the space. Nonetheless, the British singer and his band were entertaining to witness, with strobe lights creating a stop-motion effect as he sang hits like “Timmy’s Prayer” and “No One Knows me Like the Piano”.
By the time the venue finally filled up, the stage had been set up with reflective mirror-like objects placed strategically in the center, foreshadowing the brilliant luminescent display to come. Fuschia lights twirled around on stage and bounced off them, increasing the audience’s anticipation. Three figures emerged from the light and waved at the audience: Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and, of course, Jamie Smith. The tune for “Say Something Loving” from their debut album xx initiated a frenzy despite its low rhythm. The slower start allowed them to ramp up the energy for their famous hit “Crystallised”, its deep bass echoing through the crowd’s bopping heads as orange light illuminated the indie trio.
Oliver then expressed his excitement at being back in Canada for the first time in four years. As the iconic tune for “Islands” reverberated through the arena the stage lights flickered intensely. The tempo slowed down during their newer songs like “I Dare You” and “Lips” from I See You. During “Sunset” from Coexist, the lights changed to a fitting orangey hue behind the trio. Then, Romy asked the audience for support during “Performance” because she was “a bit nervous”. However, everyone stood stupefied as she recited the moving lyrics, her serene voice sifting through their souls.
The pace finally increased during “VCR” from the xx album, and the audience’s excitement was renewed by nostalgia. They then transitioned back to I See You with “Dangerous”, which Oliver prefaced with, “I’m single and I’m bitter about it, so I want to dedicate this song to all the single people in the audience”. The climax of the show came with “Loud Places”, remixed into a groovy, clubby-sounding melody by Jamie. Rainbow-colored lights flashed in the background, the happy vibrations resonating through the audience as they sang along: “Didn’t I take you to higher places you can’t reach without me?”.
The infectious energy persisted during the encore, wherein a passionate rendition of “On Hold” was performed, with Oliver and Romy dancing around on stage. Strobe lights and white smoke surrounded the triad during the last song, “Angels”, adding to its spiritual effect. The enthusiastic spectators sang along with Romy this time: “They would be as in love with you as I am, they would be in love, love, love”. She thanked their devotees with one last comment: “Vancouver, I see you!”