Into The xx’s Violent Noise

The Philippine concert crowd would surely remember the thrill (of affection) brought about by The xx’s most recent concert here at the World Trade Center on February 7. The indie pop trio from UK, composed of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie xx, returned after four years to wreak a solid live set for their “I See You” World Tour, leaving Manila mesmerized all over again.

Now on their third album, The xx exhibits their growth as a band with their musicality expanding into more intricate synths and more palpitating beats. Their music became more daring, per se, but the terse yet evocative lyricism, the experimental melodies and the hushed catharsis are still apparent.

“Dangerous” heralded the beginning of the set. As the sound of synthesized horns blasted off the introduction, the crowd was in an immediate stupor. This was followed by “Islands”, a track off their debut album.

“Manila, it has been a long time. I want to stop by saying the last time we were here, we had one of the craziest shows we’ve ever had, so we’ve come here with very high expectations, but I can tell already that this gonna be a very good one. Thank you so much for being here! It means the world to us.” With his voice seemingly pulled from the caverns of the earth, Oliver Sim spoke to the crowd. He scanned the people carefully then continued, “So we’ve done something special: this next song, we haven’t played it in five years.” a smile spreading across his face before the band proceede to play “Reunion” off their 2012 album Coexist.

The trio’s palpable magnetic presence onstage was still apparent. It’s in the way Romy and Oliver deliver every line with precise yet weighty inflections, and the way they stare directly into each other’s eyes as they play. It is in the way Jamie xx seems to be sealed off in his own dimension yet seamlessly holds complete control over their live performance. All the while, the explosions of lights were beating and dancing along to the music. As part of the audience, going along with the flow and singing expressively seemed to be automatic.

Their setlist featured the best of their new and old tracks. From I See You, “Say Something Loving”, “I Dare You” and “On Hold” were among the crowd favorites. Meanwhile, nostalgia invariably set in as “Crystalised”, “VCR”, “Infinity” and “Shelter” played.

Each member got their own moment with during the concert. Oliver Sim sang “Fiction”. The spotlight was on Romy Madley Croft as she did heart-wrenching solo of “Performance”. Towards the end of the show, Jamie xx showcased a mix of samples featuring recognizable xx tunes, followed by “Loud Places” which is a track off his solo album.

“All that we can hope for people who come to our show is for you to leave your worries behind,” Romy told the crowd at one point in the evening. Undeniably they did just that.

As the line from The xx’s song goes: “Every beat is a violent noise.” While this might have been alluding to something else far more abstract, the line could also be an apt description of what their concert felt like for people who were there. “Violent” in a sense that you can feel every beat crawling into your skin, pumping into your bloodstream, inducing goose bumps and making your heart beat just a little faster; then you sway and dance in the groove of their music, the lyrics coming off your lips like it’s the most natural thing ever.

Special thanks to MyMusicTaste

Written by Sandra Mae Laureano
Photos by Peter Tom Tolibas

The xx Live in Manila 2018 Setlist
1. Dangerous
2. Islands
3. Say Something Loving
4. Crystalised
5. Reunion
6. A Violent Noise
7. I Dare You
8. Performance
9. Replica
10. Infinity
11. VCR
12. Fiction
13. Shelter
14. Loud Places – Jamie xx
15. On Hold
16. Intro
17. Angels


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