‘DEATH FOR SALE’ reads the ‘welcome’ poster, hospitality White Lies style folks.  We’ll get to that shortly but first things first and not knowing who the support bands are I’m treated with the first of two most welcome surprises when Post War Years take to the stage.  Visually they’re quite the proposition, Daman Albarn look-alike on lead vocals, Joey Barton look-alike on Bass, a keyboard player whos hair has just escaped from Wolfmother and a grinning drummer who resembles Aphex Twin from the ‘Window Licker’ Video.  Musically they run through some tasty Friendly Fires like grooves, where the keyboard samples and group vocals make for a very enjoyable listen.  Check out ‘Whole World On It’s Head’ for evidence.

 

Surprise number two up next and it’s only the bleedin Joy Formidable, get in there.  How this slender frontwoman blasts out her vocals with such ferocity is pretty impressive.  It’s a none stop rock attack from beginning to end which includes stomping new single ‘Austere’, the 7” of which is a bargain at the merch stall by the way.  At a mere £4.50 it comes with free badge, a personalised signing from the excellently named sassy songstress ‘Ritzy’ and a quick photo with her to boot (well it does it you’re a cheeky bastard like me anyway).  By the time the three piece have rattled through the sublime buzz of ‘Cradle’ there can be little doubt that they’ve won over a small legion of new adorers tonight and rightly so.

 

All of a sudden the queuing time for that overly priced and only just cold can of Red Stripe has increased five fold and the ‘cozy’ venue has turned into a sardine sauna of sorts.  The air of excitement is now very apparent.  With a large skull looming ominously from the rear wall, four dudes take to the stage wearing all black.  Fair play, for the first time in a long while I can see we’re looking at men who look like they’re in a real band.  No trilby hats and string vests here mate.  What follows is nothing short of jaw dropping.  Harry McVeigh bellows out the lyrics to his indie power ballad anthems with heartfelt intensity and effortless poise in equal measure.  He clearly means every word of these excellently crafted songs and about thirty seconds into opening belter ‘Fairwell To The Fairground’, we all believe them too.

 

When I first heard White Lies I thought they sounded like 90’s also rans ‘Witness’, since then popular media comparisons seem to be towards ‘The Teardrop Explodes’ and ‘Echo And The Bunnymen’, fair game you may think.  However having seen them live, comparisons to any band seem pointless and faintly ridiculous.  Purely because only Joy Division and Radiohead would get a look in, in terms of passion of front man (Harry must have shed at least half a stone in sweat tonight) and the significance they (are about to) have on the musical landscape.  In 20 years it is doubtful musical boffins at The University Of Killer Tunes will sit through a seminar to discuss the merits of The Pigeon Detectives middle eights.  However, I believe in 20 years time (and more) White Lies will be more than discussed, they will be adored.

 

You see the power generated in this visual, vocal, lyrical and musical display is truly second to none.  Debut single ‘Unfinished Business’ sounds iceberg meltingly MASSIVE as does new release ‘Death’ (ah so that explains the poster then).  When Harry bellows ‘He didn’t cry when the Priest gave the sermon’ during ‘From The Stars’ you feel like you could well be in a Church, attending a Funeral.  This kind of dark subject matter is seldom a source for excitement among gig goers but tonight death is for sale and its selling out fast.

 

As we make our way out of the venue like mud caked cars in a Monday morning festival car park, my mate receives a tap on the shoulder, presumably we thought for another Manc to pay respects to his Joy Division T-shirt (an earlier example in the night being ‘I was there mate! I was there 1980 whatever it was…).  However this time the patron asks, ‘Err excuse me mate, how exactly do you know about this band’, almost as if he was checking if we were ‘real’ fans or that we truly appreciated the significance of what we had just witnessed.  As it happens both of us were long time fans of the previous White Lies incarnation Fear Of Flying, an explanation which proved to be sufficient for the drunken quiz master.

 

As strange as this encounter was, it just seemed to show that as we heaved out of this tiny building, everyone in attendance had felt they had been privileged to seeing a band in their thrilling prime.  Even the individual who took the spinning drumstick to the chops in the closing seconds of the set wouldn’t dream of complaining.  White Lies are a very very special band.  Which is why in the year 2028 when I’m down at The Night & Day Café and I see some young pretender in his retro White Lies T-shirt I can (and will) say ‘I was there mate! I was there 2008 mate!!

 

Debut album ‘To lose my life or lose my love’ is due Jan 2009.  Buy it and love it.