White Lies hit the Olympia tonight and Getintothis’ Steven Doherty was there to see a bit of Marmite unfold.
Regular visitors to Liverpool, Ealing‘s White Lies seem to play a different venue every time they are here, tonight it’s the faded glamour of the Olympia.
Back in 2009, on the back of their number 1 debut album To Lose My Life, following in the footpath of such obvious influences as Interpol and Editors, they were heralded as the future of electro indie.
It never quite happened like that, they never had THAT big single, the one that would catapult them into the hearts of the nation. White Lies seem to be now regarded as one of the “second tier” of bands in the UK, playing big venues whilst having successful albums, but not quite headliner material.
They will be hoping that newly released album Five will be the game changer, as now they are in danger of being caught and passed by bands they’ve now influenced such as, most noticeably, Slow Readers Club.
So, onto this evening.
We are struck as to how young the support look tonight, more like baby-face than Boniface.
Hailing from the colds of Winnipeg in Canada, ironically they are a similar yet less glacial version of the headliners, so it’s easy to see why they have been specially selected to support them on the full UK tour, but with an inclination to go poppy rather than gloomy.
Dear Megan and I Will Not Return As A Tourist light up the old stage, and the increasingly enthusiastic crowd that have got there early to see them seem to be grooving along nicely.
9.05, and White Lies stride confidently on stage, all dressed in black, and confidently rip into Time To Give from Five, an odd choice for an opener being a week-old seven minute plus track.
They then proceed to toss away two of their biggest (and best) singles in Farewell To The Fairground and There Goes Our Love Again, before the crowd have got a chance to properly warm up.
A set-list choice that they will come to regret.
A half full Olympia is an unforgiving place, and with the following stream of lesser singles and brand new material, the exceptions being third album title track Big TV and debut single Unfinished Business, the reaction is more polite applause rather than full blood love, with the silences between each song something you would be more likely to encounter at a smaller venue with a less experienced band.
This is not helped by vocalist Harry McVeigh, whilst his vocals are brooding, moody and bellowing in the vein of a public information film telling you to stay indoors in the event of a nuclear attack, he has no tangible stage presence, his attempts at crowd interaction seemingly totalling raising his right arm in the air at the end of every song.
— Andrew Mathias (@DreadedX_uk) February 8, 2019
However, the venue does come to their rescue. Due to it’s cavernous layout, when they get it right it sounds enormous. Death and main set closer Bigger Than Us finally get the crowd emotionally involved after the mid-set lull.
After a shameless plug to buy their new record to help shift Hugh Jackman from the charts, they end with To Lose My Life from their debut, the reaction to which further adding to the feeling that the crowd would much rather hear the 2009 White Lies than the 2019 version.
In an interview today, the band have hinted at 10th anniversary To Lose My Life shows.
This, rather than Five, could turn out to be the game changer.
Images by Getintothis’ Warren Millar