No stranger in the land of Keane
MANILA, Philippines - British rock band Keane played to a packed SM MOA Arena on October 2, 2012.
The band, whose album Hopes and Fears debuted in 2004, is best known for their melodic, piano-driven hits.
At the press conference the night before, they assured people that the concert would be a mix of their new album Strangeland (which they are very excited about) as well as hit songs from their first 3 albums. It was a small promise that the crowd would be happy.
By the end of something like 26 songs and close to two straight hours of playing — barring the obligatory short walk off the stage and the “We want more” before the encore — the crowd was more than happy, darn near ecstatic and still humming or singing the band’s songs as they left the venue’s halls.
The band’s heartfelt tunes came across well in the venue.
The arena is a massive place, and at times it felt like it was a bit too big for the act. It wasn’t that their songs were too small; to the contrary, the foot-tapping verses and sweeping choruses were expansive and filled the arena. But, rather, the music seemed to demand an intimacy that seemed lacking.
Or perhaps I was just sitting too far away from the stage.
Nonetheless, when the band launched into songs, whether new or old, it was difficult for me to not move with the music.
Keane can often be classified as “that band that doesn’t have guitars” and that can be construed as a limitation. But with the 4 guys onstage — drummer Richard Hughes, bassist Jesse Quin, pianist Tim Rice-Oxley and lead vocalist Tom Chaplin — going at full blast, there is no lack to be heard.
All you can hear is the pure power of damn good catchy music.
Sing "Somewhere Only We Know" with Keane in this concert video:
Keane’s brand of music, of course, is a specialized taste. They aren’t packing arenas like K-pop pretty boys, but then that isn’t their thing, either. There is a certain — and I keep using the concept of purity — but yes, a certain pure sound that is produced by Rice-Oxley’s piano playing.
In the context of the larger music world, Keane isn’t cool or obscure enough for the hipster crowd, as they are musicians who sell on the big charts (all their albums show strong sales on the mainstream chart). But they are also a little too alternative to hit with what we consider pop music.
And yet within that middle that they fall into, they are outstanding.
The band takes the stage and there are no gimmicks, no costumes, no frills or big stage effects. At most, their music is aided by a very well produced and executed lights package that perfectly accentuates the various parts of the song, adding drama and excitement. Apart from that, they are dressed plainly and they play their music.
Now, the showmanship level may never near what your dancing pop acts do, but there is a verve and passion that is undeniable, whether in the power, range and delivery of Chaplin’s singing which, in turn, got everyone else singing; or the way that everyone got pumped up when Rice-Oxley would beat the air with his fist as if he were wielding an imaginary tomahawk while playing a piano line with the other.
The crowd chimed in every once in a while, singing along to the popular songs, all of this reaching a high point with two of the big hits from the first album coming right after each other, “This is the Last Time” and “Somewhere Only We Know.” During these songs, the whole arena was filled with voices and I was looking around for lighters but, of course, those have gone out of fashion.
Glowsticks and digital screens lit the darkness and swayed to the songs. My own favorite song followed — “Is it Any Wonder” — and being Keane’s most energetic, jump-around song, it helped the band reach a high point, before dropping off. It was odd to hear them finish with the subdued “Bedshaped” when I had become accustomed to bands finishing big.
But then, of course, there was an encore to follow.
Just a couple of observations: first, there was a neon light that read “Strangeland” that would turn on when they were playing a song for the album. I don’t know what the big idea was, but I guess it was to differentiate those songs. In my head, though, it reminded my of the Krispy Kreme hot light and got me wanting donuts.
Second, their songs from “Strangeland” are strong, and some of the album tracks from that are better than singles from their previous albums. Played live, they mixed well with the singles and hits, and showed that while Keane has been around for almost a decade, they have still got a lot of great songs in them.
This is a good thing, as like most bands on their first visit to Manila, they received such a warm welcome and were appreciated by such a loving crowd, that they promised to return. - Rappler.com
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