@ Academy 02/12/09
Support: Asobi Seksu
I had to work later on Wednesday, so I could only get to a packed-out Academy half-way through the support set from the sublime and interesting Asobi Seksu.
A New York four piece fronted by Yuki Chikudate, who often sings in a combination of Japanese and English, giving their lushly textured rock an even dreamier quality.
Her naturally high range and tiny frame couldn't betray the rough'n'ready raw chords of guitarist James Hanna, and with Larry Gorman and Billy Pavone on drums, synths and bass, Asobi Seksu crafted a delicately cool slice of art-punk into the one of the biggest, crashing-est crescendos the Academy has ever seen.
After a quick, over-priced and watered-down pint from the soulless bar, we fought tooth and nail to get anywhere back near the stage for the main attraction. (Here would be a good point to apologize for the awful quality of the photos, but I was being jostled by that many tall elbows that just holding on to the camera was an achievement.)
As soon as the boys from Ealing took to the stage, all minor Academy irritations were forgotten. Launching hell for leather into Farewell To The Fairground, they proved immediate comparisons with Joy Division/Editors (dark yet strangely uplifting), though vocalist/guitarist Harry McVeigh, bassist Charles Cave and drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown had a stage presence that put them comfortably in their own league.
Harry's voice sent shivers down my spine, being technically note-perfect, sounding exactly as haunting and remote as on every track of debut album To Lose My Life.
You've probably guessed it already, but I find the Academy quite impersonal - a bit underwhelming as a venue - but White Lies suited that cold environment, took the cavernous black space and made it their own.
After a slightly pretentious double-encore, including a good cover of a Talking Heads track, the crowd were satisfied. I ended up enjoying White Lies so much I only took two photos during the whole set.
One of which didn't come out.