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White Lies Review: A Different POV

April 1st, 2009

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[Photo by Stacey McD]

It was one happily-sweaty way to send-off March and welcome in April, with last night’s incredible White Lies/Friendly Fires/The Soft Pack show at Lee’s Palace, here in Toronto. I missed The Soft Pack (oopsy) but was just in time to see the catchy-kitchy performance of Friendly Fires. Delving into New Young Pony Club territory, these goofy looking hipster boys ooze dance-pop fun.

Fitted with guitars, a keyboard and drums galore, Friendly Fires’ enthusiasm was infectious. Despite their consistent sound being somewhat draining, it is also temporarily addictive. During their 6 song set, singer Ed Macfarlane belted out an array of toe-tapping party anthems, like Paris, all the while channeling his inner Mick Jagger swagger (complete with velvet pants AND shoes). I love a band that throws their drummer front of stage, and to really impress, all four of the boys easily, and frequently, swapped instruments and go-go danced their way around the stage (and audience). Hell, they even threw in a cowbell (or two) – I am such a sucker! Who needs a gym when you’ve got these guys putting on a show like this and whipping the crowd into dancing shape?

Headliners White Lies took the stage clad in their finest Johnny Cash black, and these three young Ealing blokes (with a touring keyboardist rounding out their numbers to four) immediately started channeling Brit-rock prodigies Joy Division, The Chameleons, Editors, and Interpol. Comparisons aside, these proper British lads might just have enough potent rock power and talent to stand alongside these heavyweights in times to come. That might be going a bit far, but hey, can you tell I am a fan?

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[Photo by Will Eagle]

Opening with “Fairwell to the Fairground”, White Lies took the crowd on the emotional rollercoaster known as their first major album “To Lose My Life”, and decided to bring the ride to a full and hand-clapping stop with their second single “Death”. Fresh from cancelling one of their two shows in NYC this weekend due to throat problems, front-man Harry McVeigh did the best he could during their hour long set. I did feel like running on stage during a few songs … not like some rabid Britney Spears fan, but to give the poor fellow some water. I give their roadies a barely passable D- grade, but bassist and back-up vocalist Charles Cave gets a firm A+. He knew exactly when to jump in and give a hand to failing Harry’s voice, and didn’t over do it. Well done lad! And speaking of a star student … the role of valedictorian goes to the sound guy. I can’t recall the last time I experienced such amazing live sound. It’s such a delicate balance, and so often over-done, so having such a great audio experience only made the show all the more delicious.

With lyrics like “But a desperate fear flows through my blood, that our dead love’s buried beneath the mud,” Harry’s haunting baritone left me feeling not so doomy-gloomy, but rather all warm and velvety. Despite lyrics like this seeming more fitting for the electro-pop-rock-gods of yore, like Depeche Mode and The Cure… I must remind myself that it’s 2009, and not 1989. Well, whatever year it is, White Lies just put out an album that I guarantee will be on not just mine, but a legion of best ofs. And that ain’t no lie.

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[Photo by Stacey McD]

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