Jamie xx Reviewed At Leeds Festival: A Masterclass In Slowburning Euphoria

Despite the name, Jamie xx’s ‘In Colour’ is a record made for late nights and darkened rooms, so while the glorious early-evening sun that’s beating down on the Radio 1/NME tent might be great for the rest of us, it’s a pretty bad omen for him. The fact that he comes damn close to filling said tent, however, is testament to a couple of things: first, there’s ’In Colour’ itself, which is unquestionably one of the albums of the year and deserves every plaudit that’s come its way; second, and perhaps more importantly, there’s Jamie Smith’s peculiar knack for making it feel as though the sun is shining in here, rather than out there.

The early part of his set is almost aggressively buoyant and breezy, opening with the Young Thug and Popcaan-featuring ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ and continuing in that vein with an well-chosen mix of obscurities plucked from the depths of his record collection – the honeyed 70s soul of Idris Muhammad’s ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’ and dancehall legend Barrington Levy’s ‘Girl Salute’ prove particularly effective in winning the crowd over. It’s worth noting that in terms of visual spectacle, there’s almost nothing going on: soberly dressed in a plain white shirt, Smith himself isn’t much of a focal point, and there are no special guests – not even his xx bandmates Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft – to back him up.

A rotating mirrorball is eventually lowered onto the stage, but in this age of EDM excess, his is a pointedly austere, stripped-back production, and it works brilliantly – with no gimmicks or distractions to divert your attentions elsewhere, it’s that much easier to find yourself being swept up in the slowburning euphoria of ‘All Under One Roof Raving’, or the big, sonorous bass notes of ‘Gosh’.