Gig Review: White Lies at Rock City

Words: Nick Parkhouse
Photos: Alicia Tamlyn
Saturday 12 March 2022
reading time: min, words

Is there anything better than the opening night of a massive tour? That’s what a packed house at Rock City enjoyed as British three-piece White Lies chose Nottingham as the starting point for a mammoth 49-night, three-month European adventure, with support from VLURE... 


White Lies have been one of Britain's most consistent bands for almost 15 years and have maintained a loyal following through six UK top 20 albums. Their latest release As I Try Not To Fall Apart takes more risks than some predecessors while being careful not to stray too far from the anthemic and melodic guitar pop the fans adore.

One of the ways the new sound has evolved is that bassist Charles Cave seems to be having much more fun. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the opening song Am I Really Going To Die? which evoked early Franz Ferdinand in its funky and melodic bassline. As ever, the band gave us a rollocking 90-minute tour through all six of the band's albums, including crowd-pleasing hits such as Farewell to the Fairground and Is My Love Enough?, right through to songs from their excellent new album.


While the sound may be balls-out guitar, a defining strand of White Lies’ work is their pop sensibility. Whether it’s the use of almost Pet Shop Boys-esque synth motifs, or their ability to create a crowd-engaging chorus, this is guitar indie with a tune. Popjustice didn’t make their 2018 single Tokyo (which sounded superb here, by the way) their “record of the week” for no reason.

Recent single I Don’t Want To Go To Mars brilliantly skewers the tech billionaire space race (“I don’t want to go to Mars/what kind of brainwashed idiot does?”) while the title track from their latest album sounds every inch a song dealing with the mental stresses of the last couple of years. The melancholy refrain “why every morning waking up, must I try not to fall apart?” will resonate with many.

While there are many artists who can’t seem to quite recreate their sound in a live arena, White Lies are one of those bands where the opposite is true. They are songs made for playing to a crowd, with the driving bass thumping in your chest, Harry McVeigh’s booming baritone filling the arena, and the guitars ringing in your ears as you walk down the Rock City stairs.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that some of their set actually sounds better live than it does on record, and they make performing look utterly effortless.

Closing with the anthemic Bigger Than Us, this was a reminder of what great nights at Rock City are all about.

White Lies performed at Rock City on Thursday 10th March. 

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