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Live Review: White Lies/ Crocodiles/ Mirrors

O2 Shepherd'd Bush Empire, London, 11th February

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Photo Gallery: White Lies

Larger than life? Harry and the boys are so big they make normality seem really rather small.

Attention Hollywood! Looking for that perfect band to play [a]Kraftwerk[/a] in your forthcoming box-office smash Walk The Autobahn? We’ve just the act! Beneath a screen flashing geometrical patterns, [a]Mirrors[/a] stand behind a wall of synthesizers, their hair carved from the very stone of the Brandenburg Gate itself, their matching suits indicative of Germanic capitalist worker-drones.

And while you’re here, why not cast for [a]The Velvet Underground[/a] movie [i]Hot Drug Grime Machine[/i]? When [a]Crocodiles[/a]’ leather’n’shades singer Brandon Welchez isn’t cobra-dancing like Louie Spence on very bad drugs indeed, from some angles he’s Lou circa ’69 to a T.

Meanwhile his band – including a heavy-handed girl drummer, as is traditional in grandiose art-punk circles – work wonders with those classic (if over-used) materials of [b]Wall Of Sound[/b] drumming, ’60s girlband song structures, clattering punk feedback and the general sense of desecrating a cemetery at midnight with the steaming tracks of your roadhog wheels.

And you’d best get hunting for actors to play Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown in the inevitable [a]White Lies[/a] story, because these guys aren’t taking ‘mid-table’ for an answer. Into a theatre venue they’ve crammed a lighting rig fit for [a]Bono[/a]’s bathroom, with a besuited Harry flashing a silver guitar, punching the air and goading the crowd into worshipful fits.

This is an arena-ambitious, in-yer-face spectacle of melodic doom: [b]‘A Place To Hide’[/b] and [b]‘Holy Ghost’[/b] are as stormy and gothic as their haunted lyrics suggest, while [b]‘To Lose My Life’[/b] blasts out like a celebratory suicide pact. There’s fear, death, blood and danger in the bones of these songs, but they’re glossed with a glistening synth sheen.

True, with a half-hour mid-section lacking any notable crowd-pleasers and every song set to a single gear – ‘exploding cathedral’ – it can, at times, be an exhausting 75 minutes. But, as [a]Muse[/a] and [a]Coldplay[/a] have proved, to aspire is half the battle, and [a]White Lies[/a] have the confidence to follow their classic set-closers – [b]‘Death’[/b] and [b]‘Unfinished Business’[/b] – with new album monsters [b]‘The Power & The Glory’[/b] and [b]‘Bigger Than Us’[/b], both of which valiantly strive to kiss Zeus’ balls. How much bigger than themselves do [a]White Lies[/a] intend to get? Biopic big, at the very least. Jude, Leonardo and Charlie from Lost, stand by your phones…

Mark Beaumont

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Video: White Lies - 'Death (Live)'

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