Review: Jack Foley
A LITTLE under 12 months ago, Keane were self-confessed 'nobodies',
trying to make a name for themselves in the Britpop-indie world.
On Thursday night (November 18, 2004), at Brixton Academy, they
played to one of the most enthusiastic sell-out crowds I can remember
for a long time.
Such is the affection with which they are held by the British
record-buying public at the moment that singer, Tom Chapman, pianist,
Tim Oxley-Rice, and drummer, Richard Hughes (they don't use guitars),
were practically able to raise the roof from the Academy at the
end of each song.
Their debut album, Hopes and Fears, is undoubtedly one of the
highlights of the year, built around simple, piano-laden melodies,
Chapman's near-perfect vocal style, and a heartfelt honesty in
their songs which has helped them to connect, quite spectacularly,
with the public psyche.
Tracks such as Everybody's Changing (about the capacity
to stay true to one's own self), On A Day Like Today
(about being unable to find the right words to suit a situation),
and Somewhere Only We Know (the band's breakthrough ballad),
contain an emotional resonance which carries a weighty emotional
clout in live form.
And what's more, they're played with an energy and vigour that's
evidence of a band that cannpt believe its own meteoric rise -
you could have lost count of the times that Chapman delivered
a heartfelt thanks to the 5,000 capacity crowd.
Keane excel in simplicity. From looks down to songwriting, there
is nothing really flash about them. They love what they do and
their momentum is sweeping all before them.
They began the year as pretenders
to Coldplay's crown yet by the end of Thursday night's Brixton
session, they had shaken off such comparisons to emerge as a huge
act in their own right - the sort of which could well have Chris
Martin and co looking over their shoulder when it comes to delivering
their third album.
Certainly, there are still inevitable comparisons to be made
with Coldplay - not least in Oxley-Rice's energy at the various
pianos and keyboards he played, but they are more about style
than music (even though the songwriting quality resides in the
But it is a measure of Keane's growing confidence that they could
play a couple of new tracks - Nothing In Your Way, for
example - and still generate as enthusiastic a response as some
of the album's better-known tracks.
Kicking off with the lively Bend and Break, Keane proceeded
to deliver a clever mix of crowd-pleasers and ballads that provided
both an excellent showcase for Chapman's striking vocals (his
falsetto is amazing) and Oxley-Rice's lush pianos.
The set mostly relied on lighting changes to demonstrate the
mood, but occasionally displayed some inventive touches, such
as one backdrop with a sun that resembled Olafur Eliasson's Weather
Project at the Tate Modern, or a video of a baby in the womb,
during the poignant On A Day Like Today.
But none of the artistic flourishes ever served as a distraction
to the music, which remained top-quality throughout.
Highlights most definitely included She Has No Time (a
haunting, shimmering ballad), Can't Stop Now (which served
as an appropriate, high-energy metaphor for Keane's progress),
the current single and huge crowd-pleaser, This Is The Last
Time, and the set-closer, Bedshaped (surely the
ballad of the year, which built to an amazing, heart-pounding
Just prior to the encore, a clearly overwhelmed Chapman looked
out at the crowd and thanked them for providing him with the best
night of his life. "You lot are fucking brilliant,"
Back at you, Keane!