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Live: X AMBASSADORS // Electric Brixton, London

X Ambassadors head over to London as part of their JOYFUL headline European tour, in support of their upcoming album. 

On yet another cold, brisk night in London, a very long queue is forming outside tonight’s venue to see New York rockers X Ambassadors bringing The Joyful Tour to the UK. The lights are on, the doors are open and people have begun filling the incredible Electric Brixton, with its expansive floor and its ornately decorated tiered balconies. There is an eclectic mix of people in tonight’s crowd and boy, were they in for a treat.

Anticipation was brimming throughout a packed Electric Brixton before X Ambassadors emerged onto the stage. Frontman Sam Harris kicks off the only UK date of their European tour with Ahead of Myself, a great atmospheric track that gets the crowds waving their hands above their heads and clapping in time with the anthemic drum beats while Harris runs back and forth across the stage, engaging with the crowd as much as he can. Something that he works on all throughout the evening, his energy unrelenting.

They soon jump right into the song that introduced me to them, Jungle. Originally released as a duet with their close friend Jamie N Commons who, to my disappointment, did not join them on stage this time around. I can however forgive the absence of Commons as Jungle is such a great song to listen to live, the heavy bass line is slow and dirty, rawness is unleashed as the stage lights breath in tune to the beat. Towards the climax of the song, Harris grabs his bass as we are treated to a prolonged jamming session before ending with Harris switching it up again with a saxophone solo.

With their third album on pre-order, we were treated to a number of new tracks throughout the night, casually mixed in with the classics. Harris gives many speeches to accompany the new music and to give some background into the thoughts behind writing them. One such speech that struck a chord with a number of the crowd was Hold You Down. A song about becoming estranged from someone who is so important in your life but you will forever be there for them, no matter what because they mean so much, so the slow ballad song beautifully encompasses the sad sensations that befit this scenario perfectly.

We were treated to the diva-esque vocals of Harris yet again on new song Happy Home. For such a masculine looking New Yorker, he manages to unleash an unearthly vocal range. The crowd are cheering at every high note he reaches and rightfully applaud in admiration of such ability. The beat and funk are in high supply on this track, making it another crowd pleaser that fits perfectly within the rest of their catalogue.

My personal highlight of the night was when they played my long standing favourite Low Life. A track that on record should last a few minutes almost doubled in length on stage as the band diverge into another long jamming session. The stage is dressed with a huge lighting rig either side of the stage which bathes the audience in a blinding yellow light throughout the track. This is such an emotional yet powerful song, my words can’t do it justice. People say that music shouldn’t just be heard, it should be seen and this is why! The atmosphere was euphoric as the crowd swayed their arms and sang along throughout.

Equally competing for the limelight was their performance of Gorgeous! Another track with flawless vocals and the energy emitting from the crowd is now on a whole new level. They close out the rest of the night with an old acoustic classic Litost, fan favourite Renegades and close the show with the beautifully epic but subdued ballad Unconsolable. The crowd needed to be brought back down to earth and rest their hearts so it is a perfect song to end on.

I first saw X Ambassadors two years ago and tonight they left me yet again in awe of their musical ability. Their music on record is exciting but their stage presence is fabulous and not to be missed.

Photos: Rachel Prew