Music: Review: White Lies, O2 Academy

Tim Wright, December 2, 2016

After three years away without a record or a tour, lead singer Harry McVeigh proclaims he is thrilled to be back, but admits it’s a relief to come back and find that their fans have stuck around. 

Stuck around they have, but that is probably testament to the strength of their earlier material rather than their latest record, Friends, that this tour is in support of. As a result, there are really two sets tonight – first album favourites and then everything else. Bar a notably impressive Bigger Than Us, all the big choruses and sing-a-longs tonight come from first record To Lose My Life. The fans dutifully strain every sinew to sing “let’s grow old together, and die at the same time” along with McVeigh in White Lies’ own brand of darkness-tinged indie. Nothing in their later efforts has yet surpassed tracks like Death and Farewell to the Fairground, which the band dispatch with brutal efficiency. 

In their latest album, the band appears to be reaching for something familiar. There are the same repeated refrains and thudding basslines of earlier work but somehow the choruses don’t soar as high and the songs seem to fail to captivate all but the most ardent fans. Come On seems to be the pick of the bunch from that album tonight and it’s where White Lies get closest to those euphoric chants they so successfully crafted early in their career. 

There is much to be admired from a band trying to evolve with each album, and the band delivers the songs with a verve and vigour that is evidently engaging. There is no doubt the fans leave happy but for them to keep coming back they may need a little more from the next record.  

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