we weren’t planning to go at first, but at the last minute, b and i got ourselves passes to see the xx and florence and the machine at the esplanade (many thanks v and a!). bursting with enthusiasm, florence delivered a spectacular show of epic proportions, with impressively high energy levels sustained to the very last song. in very stark contrast, opening band the xx operated with the barest of setups, presenting every note and breath to the audience’s scrutiny. barring some rather disastrous sound engineering for the first few songs, the atmosphere they created was indeed crystal in the air, with songs that threatened to break into a party always reined in just in time in deferment to their consistently brittle state. but there were also times when chill also meant more tension and build-up, like “shelter” which the band seized by the throat and cruelly refused to let go, leaving it throbbing with such haunting and terrifying beauty. – dan.
mp3: the xx – shelter