The last time I saw White Lies it was a freezing November evening way back in 2009. I started the night by drinking an outrageous amount of vodka and I ended it singing along to the casualty theme tune in my mates front room with my top off…
This time around, I arrived at Sheffield Academy half asleep after my wife and I spent all day moving house. While I am obviously delighted with that considerable change in my personal life, it is somewhat comforting to know I can slip back into the world of White Lies and nothing much has changed. Same plain, black t-shirts, same massive choruses and the same important themes.
White Lies inhabit a world of life, love and death and while they sometimes come across as a little hysterical on record, singer Harry McVeigh insists on an emotional resonance when singing live that brings these songs to life.
The band open with a solid rendition of ‘Take It Out On Me’ but the crowd really start jumping for ‘There Goes Our Love Again’. The reason White Lies endure, when so many of their peers have fallen away, is their ability to compose a catchy, heartfelt chorus. As a result of this, every song has the potential to be a show stopper. This is how White Lies are able to casually drop massive single ‘To Lose My Life’ only three songs in. The crowd go suitably wild.
McVeigh is confident when asking those in attendance to clap or shout a little louder but the band mostly let the music do the talking with 18 songs whipped through in little over ninety minutes. Note perfect renditions of ‘Hold Back Your Love’ and ‘Getting Even’ fly by and a rare outing for album track ‘Price of Love’ is well received. The band segue effortlessly into ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ and the crowd erupts. I look around at a sea of smiles, clenched fists and arms held aloft. This band mean it, and by extension so do their adoring fans.
Last year’s Friends was the bands fourth studio album and it is telling that ‘Morning in LA’ and ‘Is My Love Enough’ are treated like old friends with every word shouted back at the London band by the raucous Sheffield audience.
Thus begins the hit parade. ‘First Time Caller’ makes the most of the bands huge synth sound before the heart swelling ‘Unfinished Business’ elicits dancing and spontaneous hugging. ‘From The Stars’ is a personal favourite of mine and it is delivered beautifully here and a third consecutive song from the bands popular first album in the shape of ‘A Place to Hide’, ensures that Sheffield is eating out of the palm of McVeigh’s hand. A stunning and vital performance of ‘Death’ closes the first part of the set before the crowd urge the band back on stage.
‘Big TV’ is one of the bands most underrated songs and it sounds huge here, filling every cavity of Sheffield Academy. White Lies second album Ritual is left untouched until the final two songs with ‘Come On’ and finally a breathless performance of ‘Bigger Than Us’ closing out the evening.
McVeigh takes a rare break at one point to remind us all that White Lies have been away for so long that he wasn’t sure what to expect when they came back. He seemed genuinely touched to find a crowd as loyal and enthusiastic as when he left them.
Some girl called Dorothy once lamented that there is no place like home. Many years later, a moody guitar band from London repeated that sentiment on their smash single ‘Farewell to the Fairground’. For one evening, for a few thousand people and a delighted band, Sheffield Academy was home. Welcome back boys.
This article was written for Gigjunkies