Having played venues such as Glastonbury, Rock Am Ring and Wembley Arena, the prospect of seeing WHITE LIES at one of three consecutive shows at the intimate 300 capacity Hoxton Bar & Kitchen sparked a frenzy for tickets which became available after an initial lottery system.
The band had a couple of supports, best of which were the French electronic act JUVENILES who marked themselves out as definitely one to watch – duo Jean-Sylvain Le Gouic and Thibaut Doray (who expand to a four piece live) take their influences from NEW ORDER, ELECTRONIC and DAFT PUNK, but front them with a vocalist who is quite clearly a MORRISSEY fan judging by his vocal inflections. Onstage, two Roland Juno 106s and a Korg MS20 were put to good use during their all too short, but dynamic four song set including ‘Through the Night’ and ‘Fantasy’ from their self-titled album. The act are about to embark on series of festival dates to follow up the release of their singles including ‘We Are Young’, a loping, synth bass driven track which channels UK electro-funksters IMAGINATION (a guilty pleasure for me) and Sweden’s LITTLE DRAGON.
So why Hoxton Bar & Kitchen? The reason being that this tiny venue was where the 3 piece debuted as WHITE LIES back in February 2008 (the occasion celebrates that 5 year anniversary) and also serves as a launch / test bed for new material from their upcoming third album. The cramped stage was rammed with equipment, 3 synth set-ups (2 for additional live members) and one for bassist Charles Cave to use on ‘Power & The Glory’. Considering there isn’t a single iota of camp within the band, taking the stage to FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s ‘Relax’ was a rather bizarre choice, but did prompt an impromptu sing-a-long as the Ealing band walked on stage accompanied by billows of dry ice.
The hour-long, 12 song set was pretty evenly divided between debut number one seller ‘To Lose My Life’, follow-up ‘Ritual’ and the forthcoming album ‘Big TV’. Predictably, songs from the first album got the biggest crowd reaction, with the epic ‘Death’ and ‘Farewell To The Fairground’ causing some frenzied jumping around and despite a little rustiness (with vocalist Harry McVeigh having to request a lyric sheet at one point), the new tracks got a positive crowd reaction – notably ‘Getting Even’ which was released as a free download earlier in the year.
WHITE LIES’ USP has always been the knack of writing BIG, life-affirming (albeit in the face of imminent mortality) crowd sing-a-long choruses, which in reality tread a bit of a dangerous tightrope – on one side there’s the risk of falling into U2 stadium rawk territory and on the other there are the predictable JOY DIVISION / INTERPOL or THE TEARDROP EXPLODES with more synths comparisons…
The newer material on show tonight felt less edgy and maybe a little softer around the edges, but at its heart, never really deviated too far from the sonic template of the first two albums – so maybe that’s the dilemma?
With ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, their contemporaries EDITORS took a bold step into the world of electronics by ditching most of the guitars, only to chicken out and bring them back for current long player ‘The Weight of Your Love’. Yet in comparison, WHITE LIES seem unwilling to mess with the formula too much and as the band made its way through the crowd at the end of an enjoyable, “leave them wanting more” set, it posed the question “what’s next for WHITE LIES?”. It will be interesting to see how well ‘Big TV’ is received – and whether they will remain preaching to the converted or attracting a new flock remains to be seen…
‘Big TV’ is released on 12th August 2013 by Fiction Records
Text and photos by Paul Boddy
30th July 2013