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Live Review: The xx w/ Kelela & Kucka @ The Domain – 20.01.2018

On a beautiful starry Saturday night The xx played to sold out Sydney crowd and proved why they are so beloved by Australians. Not only did they expand upon their impressive music but they spoke to their audience with sincerity and love that couldn’t help but make you smile. Supported by Kučka and Kelela before them, the entire evening took the audience on a journey across sound.

Kučka starts the sunny evening festivities off with a set that is equal parts hip hop and what can only be described a background noise. That is not to diminish their musical skill and ability but rather it shows how versatile their music is. The few lights that were employed were not effective, such is the price you pay for a daylight savings concert. Kučka is band on the rise and their set here showed that they already have live performing in the bag.

As the crowds filled into the Domain, Kelela took to the stage to unleash her own unique music stylings on the audience. A perfect follow-up to Kučka, Kelela had a similar mix of trance beats with a hypnotic voice. Due to the nature of the performance and the time, many of the audience members were at the park to have a drink & catch-up with mates and Kelela seemed to understand this. Her music punctured through the fields but never quiet eclipsed the large space. Kelela was humble in her addresses to the audience and her music perfectly matched the energy of the evening.

The xx could only have appeared on stage to one song, Intro and appear they did. Instantly there was a tidal shift in the audience, as everyone that was once sitting suddenly stood and surged forward to be closer to the trio on stage. The complementary tones of Romy and Oliver filled out from the front of the stage whilst Jamie xx stood at the back, surveying over everything with his suite of instruments.

If the Intro was to get people ready, then Crystalized was to set the mood for the evening. The throbbing bass of Oliver’s guitar synced with the electro drums up backed up Romy’s powerful voice. It was a greater kaleidoscope of sound than a polished produced album could ever hope to capture.

As powerful as their instruments were, they were made more chaotic by the spinning mirrors that flanked the stage. These were the special guests of the evening. All night they provided lights, mood and an otherworldly presence to the trio’s performance whilst never once taking away from the main event. They lit up with colours of yellow and blue depending on the mood of the song and after one rousing speech by Oliver they doused the stage in rainbow colours.

The band ran through their hits but kept the sound fresh and innovative, even merging songs together like Dangerous and I Dare You. They took breaks from their songs to tell the audience how much they appreciated us. From their first gig at Laneway attended by 50 people to their sold-out eastern seaboard tour, they told us that Australians had always loved them.

However, every artist tells Australians that they are their favourite audience and from many of them you truly believe it. But, what separated The xx was when Oliver congratulated Australia for passing the yes vote and for letting love win. The cheers he got for his statement were as loud as any they got for their music. He then wrapped up by saying how a portion of the money from ticket sales was going towards charity Twenty10 who work with the LGBTI+ community and offer counselling services.

The evening was never slow, but it turned the dial up to 11 when Jamie XX’s Loud Places took over. Followed by a DJ set from the man himself that couldn’t have been more different to The xx’s offering that evening. However, the audience was ready for it, the trio had been building up to this moment all evening and it did not disappoint.

Romy and Oliver came back onstage to churn out one of their biggest mainstream hits On Hold. This was followed by the last song of the evening, the slower Angels. As far as finale’s go, it did bring down the energy of the audience, but it was potentially the perfect way to end an evening of majestic and huge sounds.

A newcomer to The xx, I didn’t know what to expect going into the show. Their songs on Spotify had an ethereal sound to them but I could not imagine them doing a live gig, let alone on outside. But they proved me very wrong. Their songs sounded fresh and filled the entire park as though no other sound could. At all times the park was filled with sounds and lights, it was impossible to be anywhere but in that moment.

Read our full review from The xx’s Brisbane gig HERE and live gallery HERE.

Photos by Cindy Yohana