THE XX at the Phoenix, Saturday, July 28. Rating: NNNN
There's something to be said for a band that looks like a band.
Dressed all in black and wielding black instruments, The xx guitarist Romy Madley-Croft and bassist Oliver Sim spent much of their sold out show trading hushed, lonely verses as their handsome silhouettes drifted in and out of an enveloping fog and flickering, back-lit light show.
The expertly choreographed display was as subtle and affecting as the Mercury Prize-winning London trio's achingly forlorn ballads. In the two years since they last toured, the band looks (when you can see them) and sounds more confident and relaxed on stage.
During the 70-minute set, they played their entire debut album and a handful of songs off their forthcoming sophomore LP Coexist.
New songs Angel and Fiction arrived to powerful effect with little more than guitar strums and breathy vocals, while drummer/keyboardist Jamie Smith cranked the beats on Reunion and Sunset. Where rhythm creeps into the recorded versions of these songs, the loudness in concert was a bold disruption to the delicate balance that makes the music so alluring.
Here's a video of the band last time they came through town.