Live Review: Keane
A huge crowd gathered to welcome the much-loved English group, Keane, back to our shores, and no one was more humbled than frontman, Tom Chaplin. He opened by apologising for their five-year absence, and expressed his gratitude for the audience’s palpable enthusiasm. “I love you, Tom,” yelled a male in the audience. It was a resonating sentiment – everyone loves Tom. He’s 30, but looks 13, and is endowed with such a kindly and sensitive demeanour that everyone in the room wants to hug the baby-faced singer.
The set opens with the epic ‘80s synth pop-inspired ‘The Lovers Are Losing’, a song that echoes the third album’s rallying cry for mankind’s disintegration, harnessed with the open-minded and spirited tone of Keane’s undeniable pop finesse. The entire crowd erupts as soon as the shimmering keys of ‘Everybody’s Changing’ introduce the hit single, and each audience member sings along to its memorable chorus.
Notable ballads, ‘Bend And Break’, ‘This Is The Last Time’ and ‘Nothing In My Way’, were moving performances, but it was the exhilarating electro-tinged pop splendour of their new songs that proved most impressive.
Electro-pop anthem, ‘Spiralling’, was brilliant live, and the crowd had a blast with the “whoo” chorus. Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Richard Hughes and unofficial fourth member, Jesse Quin, were inevitably thrilled about performing the epic to such applause. ‘Perfect Symmetry’ is another stellar performance, with its elevating melody a compelling contrast to the soul-searching propensity of the lyrics.
Chaplin then introduces ‘You Don’t See Me’ as “for those who feel like an outsider” – the song resonates throughout the venue. A surprise came in Chaplin’s solo performance of ‘Your Eyes Open’, a raw and intimate rendition, with only his emotive voice and acoustic guitar.
‘Somewhere Only We Know’ may’ve been played to death by both the band and its fans, but it’s one that still resonates profoundly with its tale of longing, isolation and fulfilment. The entire crowd – young and old – sing along passionately. The main set closes with ‘Crystal Ball’, the glistening pop number from their sophomore album.
Chaplin and co are genuinely awe-struck by the audience’s ecstatic reaction to their encore. The singer thanked us for “a magical night” and for giving everything that we could as the band had “poured everything into tonight’s performance”.
It’s no exaggeration: Keane are passionate and lively performers – Chaplin roams the stage like a fervent preacher, stands atop stage equipment, and reaches his arm out in his trademark gesture of band to audience connection. Rice-Oxley is often bouncing as he pounds his enlivened piano melodies and unleashes riveting electronic flourishes. It was also a spectacularly lit show, but it never detracted from the emotive sincerity invoked by the band’s songs.
Keane closed with a rousing encore, comprising of ‘Better Than This’, ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ and ‘Bedshaped’. The latter presented the perfect end to Keane’s show tonight; its stirringly melancholic piano-laden melody left the crowd in a place of reflective serenity.
This was a sublime pop gig by a spirited and impassioned arena-filling band. The English group might be used to playing large arenas in the UK, but they seem to be at their most comfortable and joyous when playing to passionate fans in these more intimate venues.