White Lies - Live At The Roundhouse, London

"Sings it with feeling"
White Lies 13 July 2011
Kiwi exports The Naked and Famous played a proficient set in support of White Lies, finishing on a strong note with the latest popular young’un anthem, TNAF’s single ‘Young Blood’. The five-piece’s synth-happy pop takes on a darker industrial edge in the live show, with Alisa Xayalith’s vocals being a definite highlight.

“There’s no place like home,” goes a lyric from ‘Farewell to the Fairground’, from White Lies’ first album ‘To Lose My Life’. It’s likely White Lies frontman Harry McVeigh sings it with feeling tonight at the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, as the White Lies hail from Ealing which pretty much makes this a home crowd. There’s no slacking off though; dressed in collared shirts and blazers, they have a dapper on stage aesthetic, and when McVeigh addresses the crowd it’s with a suave sincerity.

‘Strangers’ follows set opener Fairground, and confirms the sense that White Lies make safe music. A conservative approach to song construction works for them, and keeps content their loyal fans who are after reliable music with no hidden corners. It’s a formula that works best on the hit singles, like the anthemic ‘Death’, which when played at the end of the set has the crowd hollering for an encore.

What others have interpreted as gloom in White Lies’ musical output can just as easily be read as cultivated gravity. McVeigh’s undeniably resonant voice exudes seriousness, and the moody lighting shadowing his face enforces the point. There’s no irony here; White Lies make music in an earnest space and McVeigh means what he sings, no doubt.

The religious symbolism that repeats through White Lies’ second album ‘Ritual’ appears throughout the set, from projected images on the background screen of spiritual scenes in stained glass, to the church organ synth in ‘Unfinished Business’, one of three encore songs.

Big drums, big bass lines and McVeigh’s big voice all attest to White Lies’ stadium ambitions. The band’s broad appeal and uncomplicated sound stands it in good stead to have those ambitions fulfilled.

Words by Nicola Heath
Photo by Natalie Seery

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