Despite the crowd being an assemblage of folks down at Rock City tonight, there’s a dominant breed; I count well over ten men clad in White Lies-branded bobble hats, reminiscent of the kind which might be emblazoned with your football team. A daunting prospect for any support act, you might say. But Canada’s Boniface are clearly not here to be phased; they take to the stage with sprightly pace and get stuck right into a set full of synth-drenched pop.
The brainchild of Micah Visser, Boniface are all kinds of charming and cool. Fumbling is a determined and spirited pop song with a heck of a kick to it, as is Dear Megan; all set against the movements of four guys clearly having a ball on Rock City’s infamous stage. Whilst their bass-driven pop is hella catchy, it is at times a little too anthemic. But their charm prevails, and I’m won over by the softer, more iridescent moments of the set; that’s Boniface at their beguiling best.
With all the energy of teenagers in their bedroom, they close with I Will Not Return as a Tourist, a song dedicated to their escape from frosty hometown Winnipeg; “It really feels like we escaped tonight” Visser tells us as the set draws to a close. There’s a subtle star quality to Visser’s voice, and to the wider band’s persona. They’ve most definitely earned a place on our Spotify playlist.
It’s with the crowd swelling to near capacity that White Lies take to the stage, following the unveiling of their instruments in all their metallic splendour. Harry McVeigh’s undeniably powerful voice bounces off the walls on opener Time To Give, hotly followed by Farewell to the Fairground and Believe It. Before I know it we’re over ten songs deep, and I can’t help but feel there’s a hollowness to their sound. White Lies are a well-oiled machine, but tonight almost to the point of being recitative.
Things take a slightly more scintillating turn when we journey back to the era of fifth album Friends; particularly on Hold Back Your Love and Swing. Another moment of clarity is when they throw out early single Unfinished Business; it’s a little rougher around the edges. They find a swaggering, almost jazzy sweet spot on latest single Tokyo, but elsewhere it’s all a little too polished and formulaic.
White Lies and Boniface played Rock City on Saturday 9 February 2019.