Just before they head out on stage, lead singer Harry McVeigh tells FemaleFirst that he’s suffering from a horrible cold. Not that you’d notice mind, the band tear into opener ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ with enough vigour to belie their relative infancy.

It’s a rousing anthem, with a hook that will throttle until you surrender to its majesty “Keep on running/There’s no place like home/No place like home”.

Wholly dressed in black, White Lies barely pause to speak apart from the cursory “thank you” and to remind the crowd of the merchandise on sale at the back. However with songs as huge as ‘From The Stars’ and ‘E.S.T’ we’ll more than forgive them.

This isn’t just a normal sweaty gig though- for those lucky enough to be inside tonight, this is a spectacle to behold.

Previewing tracks from forthcoming album ‘To Lose My Life or Lose My Love’ (scheduled for release in January 2009) they rattle through a number of sure-fire hits with sincerity not seen since ‘The Back Room’.

Imagine The Killers going out on all night bender with Ian Curtis and then you might be relatively close to the pounding beauty of ‘Death’. Whether it’s the propulsive drumming, the keyboard squelches or the guitar stabs that transcend this from being just another Joy Division-lite tune, their trump card lies in McVeigh’s earnest vocals.

Every grain of emotion is wrung out of both song and audience, and that is only the second best single of 2008.

This year’s premier release was called ‘Unfinished Business’ and it’s a privilege to hear it in such intimate surroundings. Picking up where Arcade Fire’s ‘Intervention’ left off, all haunting church organs and widescreen melodrama, it’s a heartfelt paean to a lost loved one; “A requiem played as you beg for forgiveness/don’t touch me I screamed/I’ve got unfinished business”.

For the uninitiated it may sound bombastic and ridiculous but if you allow it, there’s a brain-haemorrhaging intensity that will undoubtedly be the war cry of the disenchanted come January.

It’s in the lyrics where White Lies eclipse any other pretenders on the scene, think Editors jamming with Brandon Flowers whilst some Echo and the Bunnymen play in the background. Astonishing.

It’s terrifying to think that this is White Lies not at full strength, what is more terrifying is the inevitable ticket scrum when the next tour is announced.

FemaleFirst - Lee Sentino