White Lies bring their post-punk sound to Cambridge

by Martin Gutierrez

White Lies bring their post-punk sound to Cambridge

White Lies
with pushflowers

May 3, 2019 at Sinclair

The final synths slowly faded out and people just looked around each other in complete awe before a deafening cheer filled the space.

After a three-month tour around Europe, English band White Lies came to Boston to showcase their heavy, ethereal, and hauntingly beautiful post-punk sound to a sold-out show at the Sinclair. With a setlist including tracks from their latest release FIVE, as well as numerous anthems from their other acclaimed albums, the band poured their hearts and souls out onstage to a crowd that enthusiastically approved of everything they performed.

The Sinclair is my favorite venue in Boston for two reasons: the sound system is magnificent, and the opening acts are always great. For this occasion, local band pushflowers did an excellent job in setting the vibe with their effortless and playful style. Their musical chemistry is equally as good as their chemistry on stage. With constant communication, a couple of jokes and feel good indie pop/rock, pushflowers gave way to the main act.

“Time to Give,” the first song off their new album was the first White Lies performed. The profound 80’s style vocals from Harry McVeigh worked like magic, entrancing the whole crowd during the sentimental beat-less intro of the song. When the drums and bass-work of Jack Lawrence-Brown and Charles Cave came in, there was no turning back. It was a strong and dramatic start to the show. They kept diving into the dark Goth-pop that has always been present in their music with songs like ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ and “There Goes Our Love Again.” But it was “Hold Back Your Love” here the full nostalgic intensity came into play. With a much brighter and melancholic feel, the crowd seemed looser and more energetic, with nothing but smiles on their faces.

It is important to mention how emotionally packed their music and lyrics are. They sing about life and death, love and hate, certainty, instability, happiness, overthinking and everything else that makes us human. It is all about balance. A part of the lyrics of one of their most famous songs, “Death,” which they played exquisitely goes like this: “I live on the right side, I sleep in the left, that’s why everything’s gotta be love or death.”

Just before their encore, White Lies played their hits “BIG TV” and “To Lose My Life,” which were definite highlights from the show. The crowd sang every single lyric while cuing every part of the songs with their heads, hands and fingers. Jack Lawrence-Brown played particularly passionately during these two tunes.

After the first encore, something really unexpected happen. Harry came out and told the crowd he was going to play a song by himself. He sat at the keyboard and started playing the haunting and evocative notes of “Change.” It was such an unexpected turn to the show, which up to that moment it had been songs filled with instruments. It was such a magical moment; I’m sure the whole crowd wouldn’t have mind if it lasted for 5 more minutes. The final synths slowly faded out and people just looked around each other in complete awe before a deafening cheer filled the space.

They wrap up their performance with two more songs: “Fire & Wings” and “Bigger Than Us.” The former is one of their most distinct songs from their whole catalog of music. It feels like a heavy rock ballad from the 80’s, which was the perfect way to end an unforgettable performance.

Ten years have gone by since White Lies released their first album back in 2009. Their sound has definitely evolved, but the feel is still the same. They have been progressing masterfully without ever letting go of their true self, which is strongly conveyed through the new material in their latest album and their live performance. If you’re interested in listening to their new combination of sounds, give FIVE a try.