Glasvegas/Friendly Fires/White Lies/Florence And The Machine
(Brighton Dome, Monday 16 February)
“It’s a pleasure to be in Brighton,” smiles White Lies’ Harry McVeigh after a blistering ‘Farewell To The Fairground’ has stripped a layer of skin off the faces of the first three rows.
McVeigh may be a man of few words but the confidence and sheer muscle with which White Lies tear through tonight’s set speaks volumes. Looking trim in black t-shirts/jeans combos, they sound massive – taught and powerful, it’s like watching like The E Street Band bodyslam Joy Division.
Despite inching towards the bottom of the bill they play as if they’re headlining five consecutive nights at the O2 Arena. ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Death’ come across like ‘Mr Brightside’ on steroids – hell, on tonight’s evidence White Lies could take on The Killers with one hand tied behind their backs and beat them to death with their own eyeliner.
As has become custom, opener Florence and the Machine leaps onstage to duet on ‘Unfinished Business’. Looking every inch the proper popstar – as in the bonkers, 70’s art school, ‘I might later do the Hitler salute at Victoria station’ sense of the word – if we were left in any doubt earlier as to the sheer volume of talent coursing through Florence Welch’s veins by the time she finally shimmies off stage in a swirl of blown kisses and glitter all doubt has vanished.
McVeigh may declare Welch “the best singer on this tour”, but tonight his soaring baritone is definitely giving young Florence a run for her money. If their number one album wasn’t proof enough, in the space of a few months White Lies have gone from contenders to genuine world beaters.
Not many bands could follow that but Friendly Fires – who nine times out of ten can blow anyone off the stage – have damn good stab at it.
Treating the not-quite-sold-out audience to Balearic psychedelia (‘Lovesick’), stomping glitter disco (‘White Diamonds’) and the most perfect pop moment of the evening (‘Paris’’s endorphin rush chorus) the St Albans collective continue to build on the fertile punk-funk soil vacated by The Rapture, refusing to let frontman Ed Macfarlane’s strained larynx get in the way of a damn good knees up. Plus any band who can squeeze the phrase “defibrillator heart” into a song get our vote.
Finally Glasvegas take to the stage. Again, in a black T-shirt/jeans combination (although looking considerably less svelte than White Lies) they’re damned if a bunch of soft southern lads and a posh lass are going to show them up. Unleashing a wall of sound that threatens to shake the turrets off the venue’s Regency frontage they do their best to make sure half the punters here tonight never hear another concert again.
The Teddy Bears meets The Velvets crunch of ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’, ‘Flowers and Football Tops’ (or phonetically speaking ‘Flooers and Footbell Taps’) and a riotous ‘Go Square Go’ are all faultless – at one point James Allan even moves a bit.
It’s regular closer ‘Daddy’s Gone’ however that clinches the set’s spine tingling moment. Performed in front of a picture montage of James Dean, Malcolm X and the Celtic starting eleven, it provides the perfect mix of fragile emotion and resilient, noisy defiance: a trick the band are steadily making their own.