Live Review: White Lies, Liverpool Olympia, 7 February 2019

White Lies

Liverpool Olympia, 7th February 2019

Words and Photography: Gary Lambert

White Lies

Walking out of this gig, I had one question on my mind. Why are White Lies not bigger? And I don’t just mean selling out the very back row of this cavernous venue bigger, but headlining Glastonbury levels of bigger.

Like every other time I have seen White Lies they provided an immaculate performance which had grandeur, memorable songs, and production values which are appropriate for a two-year long world tour. Even their fanbase is that oh so lucrative late-twenties to early-forties demographic who still buy CDs. Everything is in place for them, yet is it a case that everything is too perfect?

Their songs are anthemic, yet they are almost a beat too slow to encourage people who can’t sing to sing along; their sound is epic yet awkward, but without crossing into Coldplay vastness or Radiohead’s noodling. But you know, that’s what makes White Lies so great. They are a band who you can feel at home with and can be listened to in pretty much any circumstance apart from a children’s party.

Boniface

When I saw that Boniface were the support act, I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed as I thought that with White Lies’ size, it would have been the ideal opportunity to blood one of many young British bands into playing venues a step up in size. By the end of the set though my rather parochial viewpoint hadn’t been debated in my mind, but smashed to smithereens by these youthful Canadians who seemed to have been created by sticking some instruments in front of a 3D printer and typing “effortless stadium sound”.

There could have been an orchestra of guitars and keyboards on stage such was the depth of the sound they created. Once the confidence of experience puffs out their chest a bit more, this act will have the world at their feet.

As White Lies took to the stage, a sagely fan behind me commented “I’ve never seen Harry look so happy”. White Lies definitely have the confidence of experience, but that experience is not just in time-served, but in how they are able to make a twenty-odd song set leave you wanting more – which is quite difficult to do for me after years of watching bands who struggle to fill a thirty minute set, so at thirty minutes and one second my concentration has usually evaporated. I would describe White Lies’ sound as doom and boom, the musical equivalent of looking at an old photo of a mushroom cloud. You don’t feel joyous, but you can’t help but be moved by the sheer beauty of what it is.

White Lies

If I had one complaint about White Lies, it would be that everything felt a bit one paced. It means that there is a lack of contrast to enhance what they do so well. I know their audience is ten years older than they were when White Lies released ‘To Lose My Life…’, but in this big room it was crying out for a little bit more energy and spark to shift the crowd into the next gear. An older crowd is not going to always have the giddiness from the first struck note, so you need to give them a kick up the arse.

The show finished with White Lies asking people to buy their new album ‘Five’ (do so, it’s a cracker), so that they could overtake Hugh Jackman in the album charts that week and offering the inducement of an 11pm signing session to get those records bought.

The queue that appeared seconds after they left the stage suggested they were going to be around for quite a while.

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