Keane is one of the few current bands I know whose sound is piano and keyboard driven, bursting on the scene in 2004 with their instant classic “Hopes and Fears“. Keyboard player Tim Rice-Oxley is dynamic and assertive in concert, rocking his electric piano back and forth as he emphasizes the power chords that drive such hits as “Somewhere Only We Know”. Singer Tom Chaplin is one of the more expressive vocalists on the stage today, unafraid to be demonstrative and emotive as he puts every bit of energy into his soaring vocals. Only drummer Richard Hughes hangs back in the mix, just keeping the beat.
I first caught Keane at Coachella, then at a small theater in Berkeley, CA for their first and second tours. This most recent tour is to support their third release, “Perfect Symmetry” and we caught the show at the newly remodeled Fox Theater in Oakland, CA on May 8, 2009. Keane was indeed in perfect form, particularly vocalist Tom, who sounded better than on the album, hitting his highest notes clearly and forcefully. The lyrics from Perfect Symmetry are varied and include tomes about love lost, and the weight of the world. But you can also hear messages about turning your life around and reaching your potential. As a whole, the messages are powerful and resonated most effectively in this live setting and with Tom’s exciting delivery. Tim was a bit more subdued in this show, but still put in a strong performance.
One thing I noticed on this night, is how appreciative concert audiences have become over the last year or so. Several times the crowd just stopped the show between tracks with enthusiastic applause and cheers of approval. The band and Tom in particular seemed almost overcome by the impact of the response. I wonder if this could be related to the importance of the performing arts during tough economic times? On this night, the power of Keane’s positive message and delivery strengthened hopes, and rendered fears powerless.