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Keane: Caught live at Brixton Academy (Nov 2004)


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 same neighbourhood).

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 crescendo).

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," he added.

Back at you, Keane!

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