When my girlfriend and I heard The xx had a new tour coming up to support the release of ‘I See You‘, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on some tickets. Trouble was, they didn’t announce an Irish gig (sad face). However, that wasn’t going to stop us and the chance to travel and get in a show fit perfectly so off to Berlin we went.
The show was held at the Arena Berlin, a nightclub/venue. I can only describe it as a massive room in a tin shed. No upper tier or barriers, just a concrete floor, a few stalls and bars, and a stage. It has a capacity of 9,000 and I’d have to say a kind of cold, stern vibe, which probably suited The xx’s style. It did allow the space for the sound and lighting to travel and eek into every corner.
What else would you expect from The xx but a blinder? They opened with ‘Say Something Loving’ but about 2 minutes in the sound failed so they were held up for a few seconds. Everyone saw the funny side though. Croft and Sim’s spoke throughout the show of their affection for Berlin and that it was their first ever show outside the UK, so it held a special place in their hearts. They did an incredible extended version of ‘Basic Space’ where Jamiexx really took the reigns and turned it into more of a dance track, which everyone went crazy for. Classics from the debut album such as ‘VCR’ and ‘Islands’ were played perfectly and I noticed something during these tracks. Usually at a gig, the crowd go wild when one certain song, probably a hit, starts playing. It seems sometimes people show up for this one song. But last Saturday night, everyone there seemed like a true fan. Every song was the best xx song, every song was sung along to and everyone stayed with the band till the end. It didn’t matter if it was ‘On Hold’ from the new album or ‘Friction’ from ‘Coexist‘. And that really contributed to the overall show. Jamiexx actually did an extended intro to ‘On Hold’ and it worked perfectly because no one knew which song was about to be played.
‘Performance’ was sung by Croft alone and despite saying she was nervous about it, made it sound like it was right off the album. ‘Brave For You’ was also excellent and the lighting was insane for it, matching the music and heightening the experience. My favourite track off the new record ‘A Violent Noise’ was fucking unreal. The members of the band have such different ways about them yet they blend so well, Sim’s rigidly moves around, Croft keeps it cool and Jamie does the DJ shuffle, going from station to station, buried in the music all the while. ‘I Dare You’ was also a stand out, though as I’ve said, every song was perfect.
The sound and lighting guys deserve a special mention, the atmosphere created was almost cinematic. It was something we kept saying to each other throughout, and it really did take the show to another level.
I’ve seen The xx before and it was a great gig, but this would probably top it. Maybe just down to the fact they had more material, but the overall occasion was better too. If you ever get a chance to see them, GO! For my tourist review of Berlin, check it out on http://www.2fi.ie here.