xxTRAORDINARY Show in Manila
The xx Mesmerizes Manila
The 30th of July was an evening of mesmerizing music down at the NBC Tent as The xx headlined their first ever concert here in Manila. As early as 6:00pm, a long line can be seen right outside the venue, eagerly waiting for the gates to open.
Tickets got sold out a day before, but the organizers made some adjustments in the venue in order to accommodate more people. Still, some people were still clamoring for tickets at the day itself and surely enough, the venue was packed during the evening. By the time the concert was officially about to start, both the gold and silver sections were bursting, leaving just the little blind spot areas at the back and sides vacant. The crowd was composed of a diverse set of people, ranging from college kids to grown-ups at their 30s. A lot of celebrities and prominent musicians can be spotted at the gold and VIP section.
At past 8:00pm, the opening acts started to go on stage. Our very own female-fronted indie bands Taken by Cars and Up Dharma Down did a fine job at psyching the crowd up. TBC performed their signature hits “This is our City” and “Shapeshifter”. UDD also connected well with the crowd by playing “Turn It Well”, “Parks” and “Feelings” right off their latest album “Capacities”.
After the opening acts, there was a long pause as the staff set up the stage for the main event. The crowd, on their feet and although on the edge, patiently stood in expectation of the band. When the lights finally dimmed and the wailing introduction of “Try” seeped inside the venue, people were immediately ecstatic, shouting and cheering for the band. In front, the silhouettes revealed Romy Madley Croft on guitar and Oliver Sim on bass. At the back was Jamie Smith (a.k.a. Jamie xx) with a kingdom of percussion/programming devices. This was followed by “Heart Skipped a Beat” and the hit “Crystalised”.
The setlist was well organized to balance out the varied charms of their songs, leaving no space for dead air. Amazingly, almost every person in the crowd knew the words to all of the songs. Even if the first half of the set focused on the less recognizable xx tracks, the energy was still flowing as they played “Night Time”, “Swept Away” and “Shelter”. Towards the end was a deluge of the anthemic tracks that included the upbeat melodies of “VCR” and “Islands” along with the more organic renditions of “Chained” and “Infinity”.
The entire aura of the concert was built around a permeating sense of enigma and a bit of melancholy. The lighting system highlighted the band to make the members of the band look ‘celestial’, like they were right off a plane of some sort of higher existence. There were the blindingly white streams of light, the yellow orange explosion that made the stage look like a furnace and the purple-magenta strobe lights that branched through the venue. This helped a lot in capturing the feel of The xx’s music, making the experience surreal.
Throughout their set, The xx exuded this mystifying chemistry. It is known that the band had known each other for their entire lives and this has soaked through the lyrics of their songs. Still, the way they performed together gave a new meaning to the bonds they share. In most of their set, Oliver and Romy would often face one another, staring at each other’s faces intensely, as they played and sang. It was a powerful scene enough to give anyone the chills.
The two also held their puncturing gazes as they watched the crowd. Their faces were a mask of monotony, keeping their scowling expressions as if to project the image of their music. However, due to the crowd’s incessantly high energy, the two broke into smiles and laughter at some instances, a sight that was somehow refreshing and rewarding. Indeed, leave it to the Manila crowd to be always full of surprises. Their reaction to the band was astounding. Their energy, as always, was over the top as they loudly sang along and energetically danced to The xx’s music.
Romy and Oliver rarely addressed the crowd and even when they did, their voices were kept low-pitched. After playing “Chained”, they stopped playing to drink in the scene – the flood of people inside the Tent with the looming thrill and hype emanated by their presence. It was then that Oliver and Romy expressed their gratitude, “Thank you so much, Manila. We weren’t expecting this and that’s why it means more for us.” He also said that they’re hoping to come back soon. Based on the sheer number and the fanatical response of the crowd, that feeling is mutual.
To quote the poignant line from “Angels”, the final song performed by the band: “the end comes too soon, like dreaming of angels, and leaving without them.” The evening went by in a flash that right after, there’s that slight tinge of longing for a little more of their time, a little more of their music. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands that by the time it was over, the fans were reeling for more. Truly , The xx gave Manila a surreal experience like no other.
Special thanks to RandomMinds Production!
by Sandra Mae Laureano
The xx Live in Manila Setlist
Heart Skipped A Beat
Far Nearer (Jamie xx cover)