A late contender for gig of the year

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The xx

Portsmouth Guildhall

A huge white sheet is draped across the front of the stage with a swirling oil slick projected across it as The xx amble on to play Angels, the lead single from new album Coexist.

As the song builds to its climax, the sheet drops and the strobes kick in. It’s an effective opener.

With their distinctive sound of Romy Madley Croft’s trebly guitar and Oliver Sim’s thudding bass, they are a surprisingly beefy proposition live. Songs that are quite minimalist on record are transformed by live producer Jamie xx’s electronic beats and percussion into something that at times approaches full-on techno. You fear for the fixtures of the Guildhall.

Highlights from their Mercury Prize winning debut, Crystalised, and a sparse VCR receive huge roars.

And as they finish main set closer Infinity, a giant X is slowly unveiled at the back of the stage. It’s a simple but effective statement: We are here. A late contender for gig of the year.