Live Review

Jamie xx, Brixton Academy, London

15th October 2015

He throbs along to the sounds up on-stage, playing the role of pied-piper chameleon.

This feels like a celebration. Jamie xx, the quintessential quiet party-animal has had quite a year – his xx involvement momentarily suspended for a first full length solo dance album, ‘In Colour’, to drop to rapturous, Mercury-nominated acclaim.

Tonight shows just why the 26-year-old is held in such high regard. If the history of dance music can be told in a clear lineage of influences colliding to domino effect, Jamie xx spends his time travelling in the opposite direction, floating between sounds. For better or worse, this is mainstream innovation in 2015, no rules, no boundaries, no scenester border controls. Encouraged and enthused by the packed out crowd, he throbs along to the sounds up on-stage, playing the role of pied-piper chameleon.

The steel drum inspired ‘Obvs’ draws the first big cheer of the night, teased amongst layers of bassline subtlety, scaling everything from jungle to two-step garage. Artful Dodger’s ‘Moving Too Fast’ gets a play, spun in homage to the UK club scene, but the of pace only heralds another immediate swerve - a jump up dubstep beat - all crafted out under the warm glow of colourful soft-focus lights, where nothing is predictable.

The hazy atmosphere intoxicates, a unifying statement of affection that the crowd are happy to follow – arms in the air, friends on shoulders. Jamie is active on stage as the orchestrator, visibly switching vinyl records in this age of long-forgotten live spontaneity. Afrobeat pioneers Black Blood’s 1975 anthem ‘AIE (A Mwana)’ emerges from the treasure trove, opening up yet another lane of funk.

But the exploration never stretches too far beyond the comfort of the audience, perhaps a shame for Jamie himself, wary of the venue and occasion. As a case in point, the final 40 minutes launches with a touching, blissfully nostalgic mix of The Streets’ breakthrough ‘Weak Become Heroes’, targeted to the twenty-something demographic and tinged with the same melancholic introspection of the xx’s work.

The night concludes with ‘In Colour’’s hits finally released in full – from ‘Gosh’ to the sun-kissed, Persuasions-inflected ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’. Lights dim to cheers, only to jolt back into life for ‘Loud Places’, featuring xx bandmate Romy Madley-Croft. Its tales of being “taken to higher places” resonate as streamers burst from the ceiling. In the euphoria, Jamie exits to Croft’s croons of “when you come down I won’t be around” swirling, but with everyone still lost in the bubble of colour and sounds, that’s a reality for another day.

Photos: Matt Richardson

Tags: Jamie xx, Reviews, Live Reviews

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