Live Review: White Lies/ Crocodiles/ Mirrors

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

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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