The xx At Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday, May 20th, 2017, Reviewed
Everything about Forest Hills Stadium has been improved over the past year. They’ve widened the road getting in, they’ve seeded the courtyard and they’ve improved all aspects of the seating, ridding themselves of the somewhat useless super seats on the ground level and adding more and more comfortable seats right above it. All in all they’ve added room for 3,000 folks while losing nothing, indeed adding to the experience. The xx have done something similar with their live show. When I saw them in 2013 (here) I concluded “They’re a drag. They need the “Y” chromosome in there somewhere. They are like the Kills with their balls chopped off.” In 2017, Romy Madley Croft is still a little too shy, but Jamie xx’s forays into solodom have helped him expand his hardly complete persona. When tech difficulties stopped the show he “invented a new part of the show” and went to the edge of the stage and spoke with audience members. It was a trifle but a charming trifle and this quick on their feet aspect was new.
The xx are a London indie electronic moody type pop band, have been around since 2009 and while at first they seem as much enervating as disturbed, the new album is a livelier affair, I See You is xx plus x. The band played a lot of it last night and while usually that’s all part of the dreaded new album segment, the highlight of the evening was a glorious very popular “On Hold” off their newbie. There was a great deal of beauty in the light show, the songs were strong enough, and if the band lacks the full scale charm they need to sell their songs, they have enough to get by. The old stuff, the first three songs off their first album “Intro,” “VCR,” and “Crystalized,” have lost nothing through repetition. The audience, when they weren’t being ignorant no nothing hipsters talking on the top of their voices, were very appreciative, singing along to the new songs as well as the old. Oliver Sims who is something of a forgotten son behind the Pro Tools shone in a segue leading to the first encore, he sounded like a house music DJ of the first order.
Opening act, r&b and dance singer Sampha was much better on stage than on record. His debut album earlier this year Process was very good but not great, there is something a little ordinary and good about him, and on stage it took him a couple of songs to warm up, and really…. 45 minutes was 15 minutes too long. But I was happy to see him.
Meanwhile, the xx barely squeezed out 90 minutes and while what we got was quite alright, that’s all I felt about it. For such a good band, they’re a little ordinary.