As punters rolled through the ever-beautiful doors of Thebarton Theatre, a strange new atmosphere enveloped them. With all house lights down, smoke filling the dancefloor area and speckled lights teasing the ornate eves, it was clear that a change had come over the old theatre.
With the Young Muscle DJs holding it down as the crowd built with some smooth house and Tornado Wallace loosened the hips of the early punters with some jazz and funk infused deep house, the anticipation was rife. With no pomp and ceremony, a shadowy figure walks on to stage and was greeted with rapturous applause. It was clear the audience knew who it was.
Jamie xx had arrived in town.
Jamie xx (aka Jamie Smith), the international electronic star and one part of beloved band The xx had finally made his way to Adelaide for his debut headline show and from the opening number it was clear the crowd wasn’t going to miss out. No sooner had the opening vibrations of ‘Sleep Sound’ come over the theatre had the British producer grabbed a record and begun mixing in a deep Caribbean percussion line. Any bets that this would be an ‘In Colour’ start-to-finish rendition live show was off. Mixing almost exclusively with vinyl throughout the night, the Thebarton Theatre transformed almost seamlessly from dance continent to dance continent.
Smith’s myriad of inspirations were on show – ‘Gosh’ saw the strobe lights gain increasing momentum as the dancefloor turned into a seething Chicago trap house, while ‘All Under One Roof Raving’ saw the producers London roots on show with a generous sampling of dancehall to match. Jamie xx is a dance aficionado and was unrelenting in his exploration of pop, grime, garage and even some techno for good measure.
For all of the lights and frenetic genre changes, the audience could have been anywhere – bouncing at a techno house in Berlin, privy to a grime stand-off at Camden Town Station or even slapping steel drums at a street party in Kingston.
As the set continued time between recognisable songs extended, as Smith plied his exotic dance trade and while this tired some – who were clearly looking for their beloved ‘In Colour’ numbers without the added inflections – most were happy to go along for the ride.
As the notoriously shy producer cut a black silhouette against the bright lights, he danced and mixed like a man full of confidence and precision. And as the disco balls shone flicking rainbow colours around the room, he finally looked up. With a drink in hand and a smile on his face, he played ‘Good Times’ without mixing in any of his inspirations. A statement in itself considering his recent Beyond the Valley controversy, Jamie xx enjoyed a moment of solitude; it is not how he would like to have played it but the audience loved him for it. It was a somewhat tokenistic finish as he put his trademark mixing skills aside – but the audience lapped it up all the same.
The Jamie xx live experience is exotic, bombastic, self-indulgent, unrelenting and utterly undeniable. While his 80’s and 90’s inspirations are worn on his sleeve, it is his own unique style of atmospheric dance music which underpins his popularity.
Adelaide experienced a maestro at work.