Preview: The xx, Usher Hall

Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith bring their new album to the Capital tomorrow
Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith bring their new album to the Capital tomorrow
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THE xx are quite the phenomenon right now. Then again, the black-clad south London trio have been in searingly hot demand since the release of their self-titled debut album back in 2009.

In that time they have won the coveted Mercury Music Prize, sold more than a million albums worldwide, and had their moody, minimalist indie pop used extensively in film and television.

It was a sign of just how ubiquitous their music was becoming when the BBC picked their track Intro to soundtrack its 2010 General Election coverage – which is something that irked the band somewhat.

“For us, it wouldn’t have been what we’d have chosen,” says the band’s softly-spoken singer Romy Madley Croft. “We’ve never tried to make a comment on politics or anything tying ourselves to a space or time.”

On Wednesday, The xx arrive here for what will be only their second gig on Capital soil, having played to just a hundred or so clued-up fans at Studio 24 back in 2009.

That they are now easily able to fill the 2000-
capacity Usher Hall on their return says everything you need to know about the exponential rise of the band.

Alongside now classic songs from their first album like VCR, Crystalised and Islands, The xx’s set will draw heavily from their just-released sophomore album, Coexist.

When the trio scooped the Mercury Music Prize a few years back, it was said that they resembled rabbits caught in the headlights as they took to the stage to collect the £20,000 winner’s cheque.

These days, however, they appear to be a lot more self-assured.

“I think we’ve gained confidence, which is probably the thing we value the most from everything,” says Madley Croft, whose bandmates are Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith. “Being forced in front of people to talk, and being put on a stage, you have to kind of . . . we’ve grown into it a bit more.”

“It’s nice not feeling cripplingly shy,” she adds.

As you’d expect from a band who won music’s biggest prize at the first time of asking, expectations were sky high surrounding their follow-up.

“We had fun and we were happy to make new music because we didn’t find touring very inspiring or creative,” says Madley Croft. “So as soon as we got home we were excited to have that moment and just write and luckily I think we did quite a good job of blocking out that pressure.

“But we had a lot of pressure from ourselves,” she adds. “We have quite high expectations of ourselves.”

The xx, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, tomorrow, 7pm, £21.50, www.usherhall.co.uk