- Rachel Westwood
White Lies - O2 Institute Birmingham - 29th November 2016
After a three-year hiatus, White Lies returned to Birmingham armed with new, electronic-infused songs, fresh vigour and plenty of indie stompers.
Supporting a band known for weighty, dark rhythms with touches of synth pop, it makes perfect sense Bristolian quintet The Ramona Flowers are the support band of choice. Taking their name from the Scott Pilgrim heroine, the band – led by the headbanging of lead singer Steve Bird – leave their mark on the Birmingham crowd with the energetic synth-pop of ‘Dirty World’ and the more intense ‘Sharks’. With each track delivering a delightful dose Eighties rhythms mixed with electronic riffs that pulsate through the crowd, the band effortlessly manage to get the crowd pumping for White Lies anticipated set.
“You just said I’ll see you soon / but you’re not here today” sing White Lies on their new album, the simplistically-titled Friends. It’s a fitting line, considering the three year-hiatus the trio have undergone. The album delivers a plethora of songs centralized around the changing dynamics within friendships, taking a new turn in comparison to their last album Big TV which focused largely on the themes of young love. The Birmingham crowd is crammed in, demonstrating just how much White Lies’ loyal fan base had missed them since their last album, and they show their joy during the opening blast of ‘Take It Out On Me’, a strong opener and one of their most recognisable beats from Friends. The fun tune instantly induces a surge of emotion from its crowd with McVeigh’s passionate, powerful vocals paired with pulsating drums and confident guitars. There is a positive, communal atmosphere in front of the blazing fluorescent lights as Harry McVeigh and co launch into recognisable gem ‘To Lose My Life’, the title track of their landmark debut album, which suitably gets the whole room singing along word for word. Long-term fans were rewarded further with the unearthing of ‘Unfinished Business’, a song McVeigh confesses the band “haven’t played in a long time.”
Despite Friends still being digested, fans greet ‘Don’t Want To Feel It At All’ with as much vigour as stone-cold classics such as ‘The Price of Love’. Throughout, the band show they remain at their best when they produce youthful, 80s-influenced anthems that lift the audience to deafening heights. The band’s new album successfully delivers live, as the enthusiastic, electronic influenced beats keep the fans eager and entertained. The band gained fame in 2009 for their moody, electro-tinged rock, which is shown here with the Echo & the Bunnymen-style rock of 'Farewell to the Fairground', led by a glacial keyboard riff and McVeigh's brooding baritone. Towards the end of the show, the band launch into perhaps their most famous song, 'Death', a perpetual drum beat rising higher and higher until McVeigh's guitar hits that signature riff and his concerned yelps of "this fear's gotta hold on meeeee." The band then close with 'Bigger Than Us', a stadium-sized rocker that leaves everyone happy.
Whilst the focused, feel-good songs from Friends take on influence from drifting friendships, the band have clearly not drifted from their ever-growing fan base - It’s clear the band's signature mildly-melancholic pop with poetic lyrics such as “I’m in love with the feeling of being used” have not disappeared in the midst of a new age for White Lies, with new album Friends showing old and new fans alike why they remain the fan-favourite they are today.
Words - Rachel Westwood
Pictures - Marc Osborne
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