The first thing to take away from a White Lies concert is:
They own their songs.
It sounds the same as on the album. They play well together. The singer has a unique quality to his voice that comes through very strong live – that particular edge/tone he has on the two albums is not digitalized thing – he is the real thing. And that is very good news. In fact I do believe his voice is the selling point of the entire band. Not to say that the other members are bad, they are just nothing special. The vocals are special. Actually even the other members seem to have reasonable voices as the harmony of them singing together is good.
However something needs to be said about the pianist/keyboard player. He may sing every now and again. But maybe I couldn’t see his fingers probably but he seems to do nothing more than play about 3 chords a song. The guy just doesn’t do much.
The other positive is that on their big energetic songs the singer actually managed to get a reasonable amount of movement from the crowd. Now if you are not living in Geneva/Switzerland you may find this completely normal. I have attended many concerts here and I can tell you this is a huge success. For example only a few days ago at the Kills (same venue) while they performed every song at electrifying style and quality and had the strongest ambience of sex and passion I have ever seen on stage – there were three people jumping – myself, my friend, and random guy A. This performance got a good 30 people jumping. I was rather proud of them. I guess it’s the drums that help.
However something that is not as clear on the albums which I only realized seeing them live is: they are an awkward genre. Wikipedia calls them Indie Rock but I just don’t know where they stand. This is something that has never bothered me listening to the two albums – I really enjoyed both. But live it is clear: they are the awkward 17 year old teenager of rock. Apart from their 4-6 big powerful songs, the rest are like an upbeat song trying but failing and not being slow enough for slow. So you feel the excitement without really being able to move to it. You want to jump – but you are not sure on what beat. You end up doing an awkward foot tapping thing and feel like you are getting there but not quite there. It almost builds up but then it comes back to middle. They even played a truly slow song – and that was better. Because there it was clear I wasn’t supposed to move to it. It fitted into what it was. It wasn’t trying to be two things at once and failing at both.
It’s all just very strange feeling as a spectator.
And it’s not because they are bad performers. And it’s not even that I didn’t enjoy it. Overall I really had a good night. Was happy about their performance. Thought it was a good show. And if you gave me the option I would attend again.
But still, I am left with a I want more from a concert feeling. And unfortunately I don’t think there is much the band can do with their current set of songs – it’s built into most of them.
She says ‘the only thing I’ve ever found
That’s greater than it always sounds.
Unfortunately this does not hold for a White Lies concert.