Keane find love in Boston

A review of Keane at the Bank of America Pavilion on May 21, 2009

, Contributing Writer

With a performance that started strong and finished stronger – perhaps a metaphor for the recent experiences the band has gone through, Keane delighted a faithful Boston crowd at the Bank of America Pavilion on Thursday night. On tour in support of 2008’s Perfect Symmetry, their set balanced new tunes with fan favorites, high rocking energy with mellow and tender moments, all the while possessing the rapt attention of the vociferous audience. Maybe it was the beautiful weather, but if this Keane performance was any indication of the caliber of concerts hitting the Boston area this summer then it is going to be a good season.

Frontman Tom Chaplin appeared in fine form, taking to the stage in hipster jeans and a shiny silver coat, his boyish good looks and smile showing that he has come a long way since his stint in rehab which canceled the band’s initial North American tour after the release of 2006’s Under The Iron Sea. Showing that they are just as happy to have the band back on their feet, the Boston crowed roared with approval as each band member took to their position on stage. Opening the night with “The Lovers Are Losing” got the crowd on their feet and dancing along to the rock-infused pop beat that the song delivers. After taking a moment to bask in the applause of the crowd, Chaplin shared his one request for the audience saying, “We ask you one thing tonight, sing your hearts out, have a great time.” The Boston crowd did not disappoint as the band launched into a slightly edgy version of “Everybody’s Changing”. Keeping the energy high, Keane segued right into “Bend & Break” from their debut album Hopes and Fears.

Chaplin was accompanied as usual by the talented Richard Hughes on drums and Tim Rice-Oxley on piano. Joining the trio was touring multi-instrumentalist Jesse Quin, who brought with him a wealth of instrumental talent as he played bass, guitar, keys, bass drum, bongos and several other various noisemakers throughout the show. When not belting out the vocals or running around the stage, Chaplin joined in on the action by taking a few turns on acoustic and electric guitars.

After a strong, upbeat introduction Chaplin slowed things down as he took a seat behind an upright to begin the emotional “We Might As Well Be Strangers”. Joined by his talented band and picking up a guitar, Chaplin and company delivered one of best song pairings of the night, “Again & Again” followed immediately by “This Is The Last Time”, with Chaplin running all over the stage during the latter. Keeping the crowd fully engaged was the delightful “Spiralling” on which they provided much of the vocal on the refrain before Chaplin was left alone on the left of the stage.

Starting out what would be a great acoustic set, Chaplin stood with a single spotlight to perform “Playing Along” which was one of the vocal highlights of the night. Joined by his band, who took positions behind the upright piano, bongos, and atop a box drum, the mellow set continued with “Try Again”. Chaplin explained that this was the first show they have played in a while when it wasn’t raining before starting the well timed “Sunshine” which provided the more mellow, slowed down beat one may expect from a typical Keane show.

With the band back in their usual positions, “You Haven’t Told Me Anything” got the crowd clapping and the use of distortion at the end was a perfect lead-in for gritty “Leaving So Soon”, which garnered the loudest reaction thus far, largely due to Chaplin’s running across the entire stage and the angst you could actually feel as he delivered the lyrics. Introducing the next song, Chaplin said “it may be the most beautiful song we’ve ever written,” and after his delivery of “You Don’t See Me” which was perfectly complimented by the instrumental, he just may be right.

The more upbeat “Perfect Symmetry” followed and was more harmonious than some of the other rock deliveries of the night as Chaplin made his way around the stage once again, even giving his band a chance to sing with the audience as he took a short break on the vocal. Keeping the crowd enthused, Chaplin took another back seat on the obvious sing-along “Somewhere Only We Know”, one of their biggest hits to date. Closing out the regular set was an insane rendition of the irresistibly catchy “Crystal Ball” which was the loudest delivery of the night from the band as they really amped things up at the end.

The three song encore began on a slow note with “My Shadow”, which showcased Chaplin’s vocal clarity as the intensity of his band increased as the song progressed. Getting back to the more edgy material that had defined the set, “Is It Any Wonder” gave the crowd one last opportunity for fist-pumping and dancing. Telling the audience “it won’t be long until you see us in Boston again” Chaplin and company closed out the night with “Bedshaped” which featured a nice vocal swap between the band and the crowd.

Opener Mat Kearney is touring with Keane in support of his newly released album City of Black and White and delivered a likable set. Bringing a Chris Martin inspired vibe to the stage Kearney played new songs “Closer to Love” and “Lifeline” with strong support from his band. “Undeniable” had a nice vocal range but Kearney’s energy was a little flat on the delivery. Highlights included “All I Need” which was written about two of Kearney’s friends and certainly provided the most emotion of the set and his largest hit to date “Nothing Left To Lose” from his 2006 album of the same name.

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