The xx, Rialto Theatre, 2/17/13
The xx @ Rialto Theatre|2/17/13
The rivalry between Phoenix and Tucson is well-documented, but I'm not about to talk crap: The Old Pueblo's Rialto Theatre is a gorgeous, well-organized venue, and it was a perfect place to watch as The xx closed out its current tour. Last night's show sold out well in advance, and some desperate fans were paying upwards of $150 per ticket, even though the British trio will perform in Phoenix in two months. Seeing The xx end its tour in Arizona was pretty special -- even if those Tucsonans had to deal with a venue full of Phoenicians crashing the party.
I was one of many Phoenicians who bought a ticket for last night's show months ago, as The xx's Marquee Theatre and Coachella appearance had yet to be announced. Because of this, the Rialto was full of familiar, Valley of the Sun-dwelling faces, making it easy to forget about the two-hour drive home.
As the lights dimmed, singer/guitarist Romy Madley Croft strummed the familiar notes to "Angels," the first track from the band's LP, Coexist. The iridescent oil-on-water images from the album cover and music video were projected on a huge screen behind the band, making them appear as silhouettes. The light show amplified The xx's familiar imagery, just as programmer Jamie XX made the songs sound larger than life, thanks to miscellaneous percussive elements.
The band gushed sex appeal as Madley Croft sang in hushed tones about love, and the ladies in the crowd started screaming once singer/bassist Oliver Sim took the mic for "Heart Skipped a Beat." The reaction was especially funny, given that Sim is openly gay (as is Madley Croft). Not that I blame the gals, You always want want you can't have, and Sim's got that lovely, deep voice, and the music of The xx is handcrafted to inspire sexytime.
The band changed the pacing of some songs, first slowing down "Crystalised," its performance sultry and nearly a cappella. The audience struggled to keep up, prematurely singing each chorus as Madley Croft lagged behind. The slow pace was welcomed, as it made the lyrics that much more effective. Before playing "Chained," Madley Croft announced that the band made a new version of the song just for this tour. The new version featured prominent bass and keyboard tones, and was a drastic turn from the original. Fans sang along regardless.
"Reunion" was sped up and included a brief cover of Jamie XX's "Far Nearer," featuring Madley Croft and Sim on vocals. Jamie XX's steel drum tones continued, as Madley Croft smiled and brought more energy into the song toward the end.