The xx and These New Puritans - Manchester Academy 2 - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The xx and These New Puritans - Manchester Academy 2

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

Two bands that have been hotly tipped for greatness for some time on the same bill, yet bar this and their relative youth, there is very little crossover between them that could fit on a Venn diagram.

Southend's finest band since the musings of 90s hardcore-esque Understand, These New Puritans, are up first. They have grown in intensity since their debut album and their dense electronica on show in the early numbers here occupies a mid-to-late-80s period Depeche Mode, sounding almost industrial in places.

Their performance is certainly interesting, with the band perhaps trying to write their own updated version of War of The Worldsor composing horror soundtracks, but they are let down by the constant pounding of both drummers, who seem intent of beating the crap out of their drum kits on every 'song'. There is a lack of cohesion within the band, with all four members seeming to jam with themselves throughout the bulk of the set. Jack Burnett's vocals are barely in the mix and at some point they almost drift into a bad pastiche of Pop Will Eat Itself - aaaargh!

The audience, the vast majority here for The XX, seem bemused, but the band are moving in the right direction and there certainly something in their performance for them to work on.

The XX are playing their first shows since the departure of guitarist/keyboardist Baria Querishi and playing in their biggest headline venues to date. They inhabit the same quiet space as Low and bar a few restless members, the audience is transfixed in quiet relish.

They start in auspicious circumstances behind a sheet, but after the instrumental opening the covers are off and they launch into the glorious 'Crystallised' and the pattern is set. Each song sounds as beautiful and clear as on the album, slower numbers 'Fantasy' and 'Night Time' are particular highlights, but this may be part of the problem. There is little energy in the band and while there is certainly chemistry between Romy, Oliver and Jamie, it is rather too polished and inert.

Only in the last few songs do the XX up the tempo, particularly on 'Heart Skips a Beat' and they end with 30 seconds of politely freaking out.

The XX were simply beautiful but it would be so much better if they would just let their hair down a bit more once in a while.

Steve Rhodes

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet