A typical first impression of Keane is its intimidation factor, with each of the band’s three members standing at least six feet tall. But beyond the trio’s physical appearance, Keane’s sound is hardly intimidating at all.
Keane played all of its debut album’s 11 tracks for a packed-to-capacity crowd at the Electric Factory on Friday night. It was Keane’s second trip to Philadelphia in less than five months. Their first stop was at the Theatre of the Living Arts in late September of last year. Their initial visit was made well before they won Q magazine’s Album of the Year in January or before Hopes and Fears went gold in the United States this month.
Lead singer Tom Chaplin, pianist Tim Rice-Oxley and drummer Richard Hughes took the stage about three hours after the concert’s inception. That’s right – Keane does not have a guitarist, nor does the band have a bass guitarist. By the welcome they received from their audience, the trio might not even need either of rock’s two staple instruments.
The band opened with their performance of “Can’t Stop Now.” They gave way to two other songs before officially greeting their crowd. It was then that Chaplin took the opportunity to say hello and express his pride in writing songs that others can relate to.
The trio then performed “We Might As Well Be Strangers,” a song that deals with loving someone from afar and being virtually unknown by that very person. During the song’s chorus (“We might as well be strangers in a different town/ We might as well be living in a different world/ We might as well, we might as well…”), the quivers in Chaplin’s voice were easily detected. His pain resonated throughout the crowd, which was eerily hushed for the song’s duration.
In addition to its album’s tracks, Keane played a couple of B-sides that missed the cut from their first album. The pair, “Nothing Left to Say” and “Hopes and Fears,” might appear on the band’s next album, Chaplin told his audience.
The band’s closing was with an energetic performance of their first U.S. single “Somewhere Only We Know,” a song about the places and experiences that everyone comes to know so well.
After the second verse, the band ripped into a one-and-a-half-minute, ad-libbed extension to its piano and drum solos. Chaplin incited the audience into singing the song’s chorus with him, extending the microphone stand to suspend it above the audience.
The trio took their bows and walked offstage before returning to play a three-song encore. Keane officially closed with “Bedshaped,” the last song on their record. An all-encompassing drum and piano combo forced the typically four-minute long track to nearly double in length.
Before Keane even walked onstage, opening acts the Zutons and the Redwalls each played 40-minute sets. The Zutons, fellow UKers, ignited the audience with its blend of funk, punk and jazz for 10 songs. In a majority of its tracks, the Zutons replaced guitar with a spirited saxophone as the band’s lead instrument. The Redwalls, just recently added to the tour as of last week, provided a mix of melodic rhythms among power-rock ballads that intermingled quite smoothly.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.