This was the third time I’d seen White Lies. The first was during their formative years, when they barely had two songs to rub together but were still miles above other established bands. The second was at Rock City but, although they delivered a solid performance on that occasion, this gig will take some beating.
Date: December 7, 2013
Venue: Rock City
A thick blanket of dry mist lends Rock City a crepuscular atmosphere, as White Lies appear armed with the conspiratorial death pact of To Lose My Life, its chorus of “Let’s grow old together/and die at the same time” directed right back at singer Harry McVeigh with the conviction of a thousand suicidal extremists.
It’s a strong opening, and a statement of intent from a band that many may have forgotten.
In fact it’s been a while since White Lies last played this venue, yet it becomes clear that their appeal hasn’t waned in the slightest as this near sell-out crowd lap up the band’s caliginous but euphoric rock-noir
But there’s a major difference in the band this time around. It’s not just the beards, it’s the components that make up their performance. Gone is the gloomy apathy, the contrived mystique, and the uneasy stances.
Take Farewell to the Fairground. McVeigh encourages a sing-along for its mantra of “keep on running/keep, keep on running”, and it’s merrily chanted right back at him. There are spectacular displays of sound and vision. Harry’s bitter and sour vocals and a forboding organ are ensconced by strobe lighting on Unfinished Business, before the whole thing explodes in a violent murderous maelstrom. Even the brooding, emotive Death sounds triumphant.
But while the hits are given a glistening makeover, album tracks aren’t void of these colourful effects either. E.S.T. is an echoic sci-fi glamrock lullaby with an alien light show, while Power and the Glory comes on like a de-helmeted Daft Punk on downers.
Songs from their new record, Big TV, sound powerful and omnipresent. First Time Caller, Mother Tongue and Getting Even stand out.
The digital backdrop projecting the band’s faces that’s been present throughout makes perfect sense in the encore when Big TV (the titular track) is aired. It’s a filmic sweep of bulging guitars and danceable rhythms so apt for the pixilated screens, while Bigger Than Us ends the gig with an inter-galactic, mesmeric laser display.
Moody, dark and morbid? All lies. White Lies are truly captivating.