LIVE: White Lies, VLURE – Birmingham O2 Institute, 13/03/2022
On tour to promote their sixth album As I Try Not To Fall Apart, White Lies stop off tonight at their Birmingham home-from-home The O2 Institute (the venue has been their Second City venue for the last five tours).
But before the band take to the stage, we are treated to half an hour of Glasgow post-punk hopefuls VLURE, who are maybe eyeing a bit of the Idles market share with their high intensity bile-propelled show. Introduced on stage by a poem from their tour manager, the band begin with a tune that actually sounds like it could be from the first Spandau Ballet album Journeys To Glory, which almost certainly isn’t their intention. Things get noisier as the set unfolds, singer Hamish Hutcheson striding around menacingly, even getting into the audience and prowling around, a little too close for comfort for some, which is probably precisely the point. Guitarist Conor Goldie’s guitar is unfortunately lost a little in the mix, and could have otherwise probably taken the set up a notch on the ferocity scale.
VLURE have done their job though, as no-one in the audience tonight will forget seeing them in a hurry, so their mark has been well and truly made.
It’s been fourteen years now since White Lies crashed into the album charts at pole position with their debut To Lose My Life… and they have managed to forge themselves a very nice career in which they seem to have full control over their material, notching up a run of six albums that always hit the Top 20 without significant, or possibly any, backing from UK radio stations.
Many fans (of all bands) have commented that they have found their return to seeing artists play live again after the extended pandemic lay-off quite emotional. Tonight it seems like this is the case for both the fans and the band; singer / guitarist Harry McVeigh in particular sporting a huge grin for much of the night, like he can’t quite believe he is back here performing to a very appreciative crowd, who sing every word back to him throughout the whole set.
That first album is still a fan favourite, and from it comes opener ‘Farewell To The Fairground’, actually the band’s biggest hit to date, and it immediately gets the audience onside. A lot of White Lies’ music hits the balance of being both quite morbid yet at the same time anthemic (some examples being the huge singalongs to ‘Am I Really Going To Die’ and later ‘Death’) in a similar way to the ice cold synthpop of early 80s Ultravox. Another early hit, ‘To Lose My Life’ is thrown in unexpectedly early and keeps the audience energy high.
The trio (McVeigh plus Charles Cave on bass and Jack Lawrence-Brown on drums) are joined for live work by sometime Mumm-Ra keys man Tommy Bowen, who adds those all important dramatic synths to the band’s music. The new album tracks are already going down a treat, a highlight being the brilliant ‘Blue Drift’, reminiscent of a-ha at their stirring best.
‘Big TV’, title track of the band’s third album in 2013, is another huge anthem – that record is maybe the most under the radar White Lies’ release, though is hugely popular with their core fan base. Recent single ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Mars’ ends the main set before the band return, all smiles, to run through the aforementioned ‘Death’ , the new album’s title track and the ultimate White Lies’ set closer ‘Bigger Than Us’, which is accompanied by a ticker tape storm and the release of a couple of dozen huge black and white balloons. It feels like a real moment and is a euphoric end to the show.
White Lies still have a lot to offer; the new tracks are greeted as warmly as the old favourites, and it really seems like the band have things exactly as they want them. Hopefully The Institute will welcome them back with open arms for their next tour sometime around 2024!
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.