I thought I knew Keane before Sunday, but we might as well have been strangers.
Jokes aside, the band I saw this past Sunday May 24th in Cleveland, Ohio is a complete transformation from the choir boy Brit-rockers I overheard in Borders, circa 2005. Wrapping up a late tour this week for their fall 2008 album Perfect Symmetry, the boys proved through a varied set list that they are still embracing past success while proceeding without hesitation towards a more mature sound.
Original Keane band mates, Tim Rice-Oxley, Richard Hughes, and Tom Chaplin were joined onstage by guitarist Jesse Quin. The tour site confirms Quin as an official member of Keane, now that they have expanded beyond a drum set, a microphone, and a Casio keyboard. Do not be mistaken, I am in no way mocking Casio rock.
The boys kicked off the set with “The Lovers Are Losing.” Not what I was expecting, I predicting “Spiralling,” but the show was defined by unexpected song ordering, always giving the audience another hit to look forward to. The boys’ energy was transferred to the audience through an unfurled Perfect Symmetry art backdrop, and strobe lights strong enough to fill Time Warner Amphitheater.
The band followed up their new hit with a solid block of music off of Hopes and Fears. Amped from songs they know better than their social security numbers, the crowd surged throughout the rest of the performance, treating each song as if it were the band’s biggest hit. More than once, Chaplin had to ask the crowd to stop clapping so he could continue singing.
Oh, and I forgot about the ribs.
Because this is Cleveland, Ohio, and nothing is really planned for any particular reason, Keane was headlining the annual rib cook off. Initially the atmosphere seemed a little off, Mat Kearney (who opened for Keane) remarked it was the only time he could ever read the words “Texas Thunder” from the stage while performing.
My friend and I entered the fest with the mentality that we were going to be the only “real” Keane fans. I mean if Cleveland schedules the band for a rib burn off, they couldn’t fill a regular venue right? Everyone was thinking the same thing. After “The Lovers are Losing” the audience examined itself, surprised at the reaction. Chaplin kept repeating that the reception was far exceeding the band’s expectations. Maybe the low expectations from the audience and the band made it an incredible show, maybe everyone was just extremely satisfied from BBQ ribs? Regardless, the strange venue made for an incredible show dynamic. Maybe you had to be there to believe me.
1.The Lovers Are Losing
2. Everybody’s Changing
3. Bend and Break
4. We Might As Well Be Strangers
5. Again and Again
6. This is the Last Time
8. Your Eyes Open
9. Try Again
10. Early Winter
11. You Haven’t Told Me Anything
12. Leaving So Soon?
13. You Don’t See Me
14. Perfect Symmetry
15. Somewhere Only We Know
16. Crystal Ball
17. Encore: My Shadow
18. Is It Any Wonder?
Total Time about One hour and forty-five minutes.
Standouts include “Your Eyes Open” performed acoustic by Chaplin while the remainder of the band exited the stage. “Try Again” which was accompanied by retro video game graphics and scenarios designed by the band on the bookend big screens. The boys only performed a few songs from Under the Iron Sea, they know their strengths.
Before playing “Perfect Symmetry” Chaplin opened up about the inspiration for the song: not following the golden rule. He also stated that the song was his favorite that the band had ever written. The varied melodies in “Perfect Symmetry” (similar to Killers songs like “Sam’s Town” and “Read My Mind”) show diversity beyond Hopes and Fears. I can’t wait to hear them expand more on this new sound.
They ended with the underground hit “Bedshaped” leaving an Amphitheater of satisfied and slightly bemused fans. And the ribs weren’t too bad either. Cheers.
Note: I must say, I’m always impressed with Keane’s commitment to fans. Each member of the band stayed well past midnight to visit, sign autographs, and take pictures with every fan that waited by their tour bus. Nice chaps.