White Lies show there's plenty of life after Death - Newcastle Boiler Shop gig reviewed

It's hard to believe that it's 10 years since indie-rock trio White Lies burst into the wider public's consciousness.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 4:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:47 pm
White Lies frontman Harry McVeigh in action at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle on their tour to promote new album Five. All pics: Gary Welford.

The band from Ealing, West London, carved a niche for themselves among those who like their music served loud, with plenty of synths on top.

Singing guitarist Harry McVeigh's rich baritone voice saw him compared to the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division, or, more contemporarily, Editors' Tom Smith.

White Lies drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown pounds out the beat at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle on their tour to promote new album Five.

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And while there's certainly a vocal resemblance, White Lies have a distinct sound and have accrued a following all of their own.

This sold-out show was to promote their fifth album, the appropriately-named Five, which only came out on Friday, but many of those present already seemed familiar with its contents.

That's just as well, as eight of its nine tracks received an airing, with Denial the odd one out.

They kicked off with its opener Time To Give, which was a brave move, given that it lasts seven and a half minutes, but they were preaching to the converted, who loved it.

White Lies bass player Charles Cave performing at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle on the Five tour.

Next up was a real blast from the past, Farewell To The Fairground, one of the quartet of singles which made their 2009 debut album so memorable.

It sounded huge in the cavernous, wide-open space that is the Boiler Shop, with Jack Lawrence-Brown's machine-like drums sounding thunderous and Charles Cave's throbbing bass filling the room.

New album aside, the setlist leaned heavily towards more recent work, with five tracks from their previous album, 2016's Friends, included in the 90-minute main show.

I was probably in the minority in thinking of most of them as dispensable padding rather than essential inclusions, as the mid-section of the gig all began to sound a bit samey after a while, but the glorious Hold Back Your Love merited its place.

White Lies played the Boiler Shop in Newcastle as part of their tour to promote latest album Five..

With such emphasis on new material there were bound to be casualties; only three songs from third album Big TV made the cut, and splendidly over-the-top closer Bigger Than Us was the sole choice from second album Ritual.

Tokyo and the faster-paced Never Alone were the pick of the new songs, but it was the old stuff which really got the crowd going, with everyone in the place joining in with still-marvellous debut single Unfinished Business, and the first album's title track To Lose My Life, which rounded off a trio of encores.

Few present would surely dispute the song of the night, however, with Death, their finest five minutes, given a welcome 'slow-it-down-then-speed it-up' twist and still sounding absolutely magnificent.

Their music might pack a somewhat gloomy punch at times, but there's plenty of life left in White Lies yet.