Author: beardedpilgrim

Lend Me Your Ears

Lend Me Your Ears

White Lies 1
Harry McVeigh

Winter is taking ages

This talking never helped the pain when the wave hits

Darling, I can’t explain it

This city hits a low when it’s raining.

– Don’t Want To Feel It All

 

As White Lies walked onto the stage of the Troxy, I felt a familiar nervousness in my stomach. Touring for their fourth album, Friends, they had reinvented their sound yet again – would they retain the energy that had always made them so entertaining to see live? My initial apprehension quickly vanished, however, as band settled into the distinctive rhythm of Take It Out On Me, a recent release that provides a fresh take on the classic sound of the early albums.

White Lies 3

White Lies’ sound is complex and resists straightforward explanation. It is at once dark, intense, serious…and yet euphoric and uplifting. Shunning virtuoso guitar solos, they build up intricate layers of textured sound that keep growing throughout a song, to be released in a climactic final chorus. Harry McVeigh’s haunting voice soars over the top, a singer who achieves the rare feat of combining emotional power with technical excellence. He sings about misunderstanding, loss, romance gone wrong – but his words are full of a bittersweet resignation that come across as more reflective than anguished. The band has always made heavy use of minor chords to suit the sombre lyrics, but with Friends, they have taken a further step away from the ‘indie’ sound of their first album and towards a more ‘alternative’ vibe. Crashing guitar chords in the choruses have been replaced with wistful synths as their style mellows with age. Nevertheless, the unapologetically melancholic lyrics and the emotionally intensity they have retained makes for music that remains totally immersive.

White Lies 2
Charles Cave

As performers, White Lies are serious and professional, rather than showy, and they let the music do most of the talking. Well suited for festivals and large crowds, the raw power of their shows makes them highly engaging for newcomers and veterans alike. On this night, old fans were spoiled rotten as the band made judicious selection from their magnificent back catalogue as well as their most recent album. I even had the pleasure of hearing Unfinished Business, a classic from the first album that I had never heard live before! But overall, we were treated to a Best Of, crowd-pleasing set, including festival favourites ‘To Lose My Life, ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ and ‘Bigger Than Us’. I must say that despite my nostalgia for these blasts from the past, some of my favourite moments of the night were singing along to two of their new tracks, ‘Hold Back Your Love’ and ‘Don’t Want to Feel It All’. They really have pulled off the unlikely feat of changing style whilst retaining the essence of what thrust them into the limelight in the first place.

White Lies 4

As I belted out track after track, arms around my oldest friends, memories flooded back to me of an earlier time – of moments of my life that I will always look back fondly on. Being able to enjoy the music with my brother Rob, the man who originally showed me White Lies back in the day, made it all the more unforgettable an occasion. I left the gig like the music I’d just heard – sad, but in a good way.

Lend Me Your Ears

Lend Me Your Ears

 

correspondents4

 

Your best friend asked if I was straight or gay
I can understand the question when I dance this way.
– Washington Square

 

The Correspondents @Brixton Jamm 11.02.17

 

With his completely shaved head, John Lennon glasses and tight lycra bodysuit, Mr Bruce certainly cuts a striking figure. And that’s before you see him move – all high knees and trailing arms as he flamboyantly twirls and jives his way back and forward across the stage. His outrageous dance moves are the driving force behind his notable stage-presence, and the manic energy he brings infallibly drives the crowd into a rambunctious frenzy. He serves as the frontman of The Correspondents, somehow catching his breath between skank-outs to hurl forward a stream of highly rhythmic, witty and eccentric lyrics.

Fear and Delight

 

The Correspondents themselves sit on that middle ground between DJ set-with-frontman and full blown live band, sometimes pulling in support from a live drummer and brass section, but this night at the Brixton Jamm they were stripped down to the core duo, Mr Bruce himself and beats-man Chuckles. Chuckles was responsible for providing the backing to Mr Bruce’s half-insane capering, and he did not disappoint, delivering a raft of playful skiffles, bassline wobbles and big beats. When asked by friends to define the Correspondents’ sound, I had to settle on the term electro-swing, but their constantly changing style has more than a few echoes of drum and bass and dubstep that keeps the energy levels constantly overflowing and the crowd asking for more. Big tunes of the night included the signature jaunty swing of Washington Square, the driving bassy electro-funk of What’s Happened to Soho, and sing-along crowd favourite Fear and Delight.

You Turn Me On

 

Worthy of mention too were the supporting act My Bad Sister, who warmed up the crowd superbly with their perfectly choreographed synchronised dance moves. The two front-women, identical twins, pitched their act provocatively somewhere between a power dance and a strip-tease. Dressed in glittering faux-police-officer gear, a good deal of which seemed to come off during the performance, they shuffled and skanked their way through a backing track largely composed of driving UK Bass of the sort that South Londoners know and love.

You Turn Me On Too…

 

All told, the night was a great success, bringing together friends from across the city and beyond for a showcase of what Brixton nightlife is all about. High-octane live performances, venues Jamm-packed with late-night revellers, and big, bassy sounds to keep the customers satisfied until the early hours of the morning. Who needs Soho anyway?