Keane has become one of my all-time favorite bands. What differentiates Keane from other rock bands is that they use piano as their lead instrument, as opposed to guitar (though they do use guitar). It is the brilliance of composer and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley that gives Keane it’s unique soul. On top of that, the impeccable vocals of frontman Tom Chapman tell a beautiful melodic story in every song they perform. Rounding out the group and giving Keane its rock ‘n roll heart is Richard Hughes on drums and percussion.
I first saw Keane last year at Radio City Music Hall and they were phenomenal. They’re back this year to promote their new EP Night Train. The sun setting over Manhattan made for a dramatic and memorable night at the Williamsburg Waterfront. I missed the opening acts, including Ingrid Michaelson, but she was strangely covering Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as we entered the gates. But it was Keane that I was so excited to see again and what an amazing backdrop. Can you imagine how special it is for a UK band like Keane to have this as their view while performing:
I’m going to confess right now that we missed the opening acts because we stopped in the Radegast Hall and Biergarten in Brooklyn before hitting the venue for a giant liter of Kapuziner Weisse, and the beer garden setting continued once we got to the show, though we switched to Heineken Light. So my set list order is questionable, but I certainly remember all the songs and those that moved me most.
They finally took the stage and appropriately opened with “Clear Skies” off Night Train. Other songs off Night Train included “Back in Time,” “Stop for a Minute” and “Your Love” (featuring lead vocals by Tim Rice-Oxley). Night Train is Keane’s fourth studio album, following Hopes and Dreams (2004), Under the Iron Sea (2006) and Perfect Symmetry (2008). Keane played their best off all three of their previous albums.
From Hopes and Dreams, huge crowd pleasers “Somewhere Only We Know,” “Everybody’s Changing,” “This is the Last Time,” and two of my favorite Keane songs of all-time, “Bedshaped” and “Bend and Break” were all performed. From Under the Iron Sea, “Is It Any Wonder,” “Nothing in My Way,” “Try Again” and “A Bad Dream.” And finally from Perfect Symmetry (which might be their most perfect album), “Again and Again,” “Spiraling,” “You Haven’t Told Me Anything” and title track “Perfect Symmetry.”
As expected, they saved their best for last: the best song off Night Train, “My Shadow.” “‘Cause when your back’s against the wall, that’s when you show no fear at all, and when you’re running out of time, that’s when your hitch your star to mine.” This song means so much to me, I can’t stand it. They closed with the great “Crystal Ball” from Under the Iron Sea. I loved watching Tom Chapman perch himself on a box like a meerkat with his arms wide open. I hold such respect for this man, and this group. I can’t wait to see them again.
Here’s a YouTube video of Keane performing “My Shadow” last year in Minneapolis. While the video quality is a bit grainy, it beautifully captures the impeccable vocals of Tom Chapman. Watch and worship.