Just right after the British leg of the Five European Tour, White Lies are touring and performing in packed venues across mainland Europe with a high watermark setlist that sometimes harkens back to their earliest days in 2008 through to the lighter poppier sound that began emerging right after the Fiction years and signing with BMG, till the fifth work where the opening track makes it clear that this album takes a far different approach from its predecessor.
White Lies has spent a long career dallying with the mainstream, but their intention to do so was not entirely obvious in 2018.
The queues outside build and the anticipation rises a good hour before the doors open and so it’s no surprise that by the time the support act, Boniface take to the stage that the venue is already 80% full.
The blistering intensity of this tour, and please never mind the blunt force power of the raw material from “To Lose My Life…”, is what is apparently quite intense, mind blowing on stage set and McVeigh-Cave-Lawrence-Brown are well aware of the dangers, the pros and cons, while relying on their last album’s strenghts minimizing such musical impact on the audience.
The iconic frontman is clad in black, his voice is outstanding as ever as “Time to Give” emerges from darkness and our faces lit up as we heard the first single from last record, McVeigh works the stage just like an old hand, allowing for a pristine sound to surround the venue.
McVeigh leads the crowd through a series of classics and upbeat songs including “Farewell to the Fairground” (“To Lose My Life…”, 2009) -an MTV rendition- “Believe it” and “There Goes Our Love Again” (“Big T.V.” first single, 2013), ahead of a full-force rendition of the “Friends” album interpolating some outsider songs, like the first single from their first work “Unfinished Business”: “Is My Love Enough?”, “Hold Back Your Love”, “Don’t Want to Feel it All”, “Take it Out on Me”, “Swing”.
“Big T.V.” eponymous non-single, sometimes Synth-pop and New-wave, Marian Gold’s Alphaville alike as well as Tears for Fears, joyous considering that it’s one of their darkest works. Just past the halfway mark towards the end, my only friend…
The gig moves up a gear with the thunderous applause as the opening strains of “Never Alone” crank into action, another non-single, one of their highest achievements on Five, in my humble opinion, followed by “Kick Me” also from 2018. And now ten years back, not later, “Death”, and yes, this fear’s got a hold on me as we all know the end of this journey is near.
It takes literally seconds for the full venue to start jumping around, “Tokyo” has one of those vocals anthem that is unmistakable in the canons of rock history.
The set list was a pleasant trip down memory that satiated the palates of White Lies fans. Lyrically, it’s almost a masterpiece. Sonically, it sounds like no other number: “To Lose My Life”… as the setlist was running dry and I was expecting a couple of powerful encores but as the lights dim and some barely distinguishable vocals couldn’t be heard amongst the woops and cheers, as Harry McVeigh took the stage to play “Change” the show crunched to a close.
“Fire and Wings”, the last from the last. Sometimes a British prayer reminds us Jim Morrison is dead and Muse riffs alive while all the bravest boys are waiting for the world to end as Hutchence, full moon and dirty hearts.
The encore ended with one of White Lies’ all-time hits, “Bigger Than Us” is the most atmospheric song of the night – the band’s musical skills have lasted through the last decade.
Charles Cave is a great bass player and certainly not in the conventional sense, his endless collection of noises sound brilliantly musical and help to create the soundscapes and atmospheres that the band is so good at. Jack Lawrence-Brown at no point does he lose that irrepressible energy. Special kudos to Tommy Bowen who played the keyboards.
A decade on from their formation, White Lies’ talent has not dwindled. White Lies brought their catalogue to an electric performance at the Ancienne Belgique, the venue had fantastic acoustics and the audience loved the warm, intimate ambiance. The band was precise and production was lush and each and every song was delivered with a precision that some bands can only dream off achieving. A night to remember… and this is not a white lie, not even a lie. It’s the thruth itself.
01.- Time to Give – FIVE (2018) – First single
02.- Farewell to the Fairground – To Lose My Life (2009) – Fourth single
03.- Believe It – FIVE (2018) – Second single
04.- There Goes Our Love Again – Big TV (2013) – First single
05.- Is My Love Enough? – Friends (2016) – non-single
06.- Hold back your love – Friends (2016) – Fourth single
07.- Unfinished business – To Lose My Life (2008) – First single, first disc
08.- Jo? – FIVE (2018) – non-single
09.- Don’t want to feel it all – Friends (2017) – Fifth single
10.- Take it out on me – Friends (2016) – First single
11.- Swing – Friends (2016) – non-single
12.- Big TV – Big TV (2013) – non-single
13.- Never alone – FIVE (2018) – non-single
14.- Kick me – FIVE (2018) – non-single
15.- Death – To Lose my life (2008) – Second single
16.- Tokyo – FIVE (2019) – Fourth single
17.- To Lose My life – To lose my life (2009) – Third single
18.- Change – Big TV (2013) – non-single
19.- Fire and wings – FIVE (2018) – non-single
20.- Bigger than us – Ritual (2011) – First single
Venue: Ancienne Belgique, Brussels [Main Hall]
Capacity: 2,000 people [Sold-out]
Running time: 1h. 45 min. [20:45 ~ 22:25]
Thanks to the band, Nathan McGough at Red Light Management and Dawn Odins at PIAS.
Harry McVeigh – Lead vocals, Guitar
Charles Cave – Bass guitar, Backing vocals
Jack Lawrence-Brown – Drums
Tommy Bowen – Keyboards [Live]