Review: The XX and Sampha at the Palace Theater – St. Paul, MN. April 28, 2017

Published by JB on April 29, 2017

“Could I be, was I there?
It felt so crystal in the air
I still want to drown, whenever you leave
Please teach me gently, how to breathe”

From ‘Shelter’, by The XX (taken from the self-titled album, 2011)

And so the lyrics go from the live, remixed centerpiece of the sold-out-to-the-rafters show by The XX at the new Palace Theater, located in a beautiful section of downtown St. Paul.   The disco-tinged backbeat of ‘Shelter’ (reminiscent of the sublime breakdown during ‘Milk & Honey’ from Beck’s Midnite Vultures) was simply one of many evening highlights as The XX was enveloped in endless applause during a briskly paced show in front of a Friday night crowd.

The XX are filling the perfect gap right now between stripped down experimental pop and EDM.    Jamie XX pulls Romy Madly Croft’s lead guitar and Oliver Sim together to form a tonic and sonic mix that his hit the exact pulse of the entire millennial crowd.   Croft’s beautiful, vulnerable, melancholy tone is picked up by the masculine, forgiving vibe of Sim’s alternative lead vocals.  It’s a magical mix.

Right now, Jamie XX and others can do no wrong.   Every song sounds hip.   Their light show and sparse arrangements fill the gaps of our imagination.   We can’t wait for the next song, the next hook – the next awkward dance motion from Oliver.  It all just seems right.

Engulfed in non-stop smoke machines from the stage, The Palace Theater is a beautiful venue.   But the balcony that hangs over in close proximity to the stage is truly the place to be; great seats, convenience and a close distance from the performers.   On Friday night, every gap was filled.

The XX galloped through the new, wonderful ‘I Dare You’ from the I See You LP.   ‘I Dare You’ is one of those seminal moments of the show where Jamie XX truly heats things up.   His dance beats are actually few and far between as much of The XX set features introspective, slower and midtempo tunes throughout.   But when Mr. XX turns the dial towards the dance floor the entire venue shakes.   None better than during ‘I Dare You’ and ‘Shelter’.   Both are scintillating for a crowded theater.

Even the beautiful, pumping instrumental ‘Intro’, the debut track from The XX’s first album sounds remarkably fresh, and relevant.   It’s brought in during an odd point of the show (midway through the encore), as if it were forced in, but no one cared.  The place pulsated.

The XX is becoming one of those scary bands.  Not quite at the pace of a young Arcade Fire, but pretty close to it.  They’re like the Black Keys back when the Black Keys were the cool kids and void of the commercial imprint of the industry.   The XX has become the world’s best secret that everyone is now telling you about.    Let’s hope album #4 doesn’t take another five years.


  1. Say Something Loving
  2. Crystalised
  3. Islands
  4. I Dare You
  5. Lips
  6. Sunset
  7. Basic Space
  8. Performance
  9. Brave for You
  10. Infinity
  11. VCR
  12. Dangerous
  13. Fiction
  14. Shelter
    (Jamie xx live remix)
  15. Loud Places


  16. On Hold
  17. Intro
  18. Angels



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