Gig review: White Lies

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AFTER claiming the first straight-to-number-one album of the year, albeit during January's sluggish sales, White Lies returned to the Barrowland with a reputation still tempered by sneers at their gloomy posturing.

Singer and guitarist Harry McVeigh's moody baritone makes comparisons to Ian Curtis and Julian Cope seem inevitable, but even on songs like Death and To Lose My Life, bassist Charles Cave's lyrics reject Curtis's nihilism, resounding with desperation, not overweening misery, their romantic, all or nothing insistence encapsulated in the line "everything has got to be love or death".

The poetic wit of a Nick Cave could leaven such sentiments, but emanating from four earnest young men clad entirely in black (the usual White Lies' trio has been augmented by a keyboardist for this tour) there's an ever-present danger of them appearing ridiculously po-faced. Fortunately, they never allowed the crowd any time for reflection, their bombastic, soaring rock inducing the audience to echo nearly every chorus and plug the gaps in any verse left silent by McVeigh – no mean feat for a band with a single album to their credit.

Opener A Place To Hide rumbled the gig into life before the synths of single Farewell to the Fairground propelled this slick, stadium rock tune to its "no place like home" refrain. To Lose My Life repeated the formula, the patient, panoramic opening exploding into a belted, goosebump-raising chorus. A yowling, funereal dirge, Nothing To Give, lurched towards self-parody but B-side Taxidermy and a cover of Portishead's The Rip were welcome surprise additions to the show. Having finished with Death, one could be tempted to dismiss White Lies as playing to a blueprint, but their darkness truly dazzles at the moment.

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