“So good to see you after such a long time…we need to make up for lost time tonight,” Keane frontman Tom Chaplin said at the start of the band’s Tabernacle show Thursday night.
He was right on both accounts. It’s been nearly eight years since Keane last played Atlanta (at the Tabernacle and Music Midtown) and the band spent its nearly two-hour set taking appreciative fans on a flawlessly executed 21-song journey through their four-album career.
Though the English-based Keane has never reached the stature in the U.S. that it has achieved internationally, Chaplin noted in an interview with the AJC earlier this week that the band is nonetheless thrilled with the loyal fan base it has culled stateside.
Indeed, throughout much of Thursday’s close to sold-out show, Chaplin – tall, slender, but still baby-faced – and the rest of the band (Tim Rice-Oxley on piano/keys/guitar, Richard Hughes on drums and recent addition Jesse Quin on bass) frequently shared smiles and looks of happy surprise at the crowd’s warm reaction.
Whether it was a new song such as “You Are Young” or “Neon River” from their recent album, “Strangeland” or, as Chaplin put it, “one of the oldest Keane songs,” the melancholy “She Has No Time,” fans listened reverently.
The hallmark of Keane’s sound is the mellifluous piano provided by Rice-Oxley – particularly the wonderful use of minor chords – coupled with songs that ache with vulnerability.
“I think you know how this one goes,” Chaplin said with a slight smile before the band leaned into the jingle-jangle beauty of “Everybody’s Changing,” easily one of the most perfect pop songs of the past decade and a Keane staple.
It and the triple-play of “Is It Any Wonder?”, “This is the Last Time” and “Somewhere Only We Know,” their highest-charting song in the U.S., are the most familiar among their catalog and the decision to play them in succession was indeed smart, as it roused the audience even greater.
But Chaplin was correct in his observation that the band’s fans aren’t the fair-weather type. They felt Chaplin’s shudders in “Silenced by the Night” and the prayer-like “Hamburg Song” and gleefully bounced along with the Rice-Oxley’s quirky synthesizers in “Spiralling.”
There was nothing visually dynamic about the show – a simple gray-toned sunburst advertising “Strangeland” served as the stage backdrop, the guys were clad in neatly casual assortments of jeans, T-shirts and button-downs and the lights were minimal but effective.
And that was perfect.
Chaplin’s angelic voice soared crisply and the band was airtight throughout the show. Yes, eight years was too long of a wait, but Keane made sure that fans wouldn’t soon forget their return.
By Melissa Ruggieri, The Music Scene