Sunday 25 February 2007

but now I think how I was wrong....

Keane @ Nottingham Arena, Sunday 25th February 2007

What can I say about Keane that I haven't already said? It only seems like bloody yesterday since I last saw them, for starters - although apparently it was October. They're a decent band and they've done some decent songs... it's just that... well.... I find them a touch insipid. They seem to have most of the right pieces in most of the right places, but they still seem to be lacking a certain magic ingredient that would make me love them. Of course, millions of people around the world do love them, including our very own Lord Bargain down the road.

It was Bargs who enthusiastically grabbed me a few months ago and asked me if I had realised that Keane were going to be playing the Arena in February and that tickets had already gone on sale. Yes I was aware, but in the interest of politeness, I kept my mouth shut and simply expressed disappointment that it was already sold out. Yay!

A couple of days later, Bargs came back to me with the happy news that he had managed to procure six (six!) standing tickets for the gig on Ebay. Oh Fraptious Day! Kaloo Kalay! He caught my rather obvious lack of delight and shot me a sour look, but I just couldn't help myself. I've seen Keane live now several times, and although I bought their second album, it wasn't something that I loved (or even something that I have listened to all the way through more than once) and so I could quite happily give them a miss. And now I was going to be going. Great. Well, at least arena gigs are always good, aren't they?

Ah, no... they're horrible souless barns, aren't they?


The backing tape that they were playing when we arrived at the arena didn't exactly improve my mood: all the sweary hip-hop, Nirvana and Depeche Mode in the world are never, ever going to convince me that Keane are an edgy band. Never. I crossed my arms and began to sharpen my poisoned pen for the slagging that my review would certainly give them.

Well, do you know what? Whisper it quietly, but Keane were fantastic tonight. They're only a three piece, but they used the whole space of the arena better than any other band I have seen perform here, and they absolutely filled the place with their presence and with their sound. The main part of the stage was laid out in the traditional manner with the keyboards, microphones and the drumkit, but there were also two raised platforms on either side and a long walkway out to another smaller stage in the middle of the crowd. Considering that two of the band are necessarily static, I thought they used the space well. Tom Chaplain charged from one end of the stage to another, regularly climbing the few steps to the raised platforms to exhort the crowd on the wings. Mid-set, the whole band decamped to the smaller stage out in the audience and played a few numbers. Needless to say, they were rapturously received for their efforts by a sold out arena. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I've not seen a band so well received here.

The first third of the set was probably identical to the gig I saw them play in Wolverhampton in October, but after about twenty minutes they began to play different stuff. It was around this time that I realised that although I was surrounded by a few candidates for the "twat at gig" award, none of them were actually distracting me from the band. It's always a sign that I'm not really enjoying a gig when I start to notice the things going on around me. Keane were looking good (Chaplain in particular looks in fine fettle) and they were sounding good. God help me, but I was actually enjoying myself.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I haven't gone completely soft. I know it's not really his fault, but when Chaplain throws himself around the stage striking ROCK poses and pumping his fist at the crowd, he doesn't half look like a twat, God love him. He's also a man who has clearly been in a little too much therapy, and he can't seem to stop himself from publically beating himself up about his supposed misdemeanors to the other two guys in the band... misdemeanors that Tim Rice-Oxley has been good enough to make him sing about for the best part of a year now. How introverted is that, by the way? How passive-aggressive?

TR-O: "Um, hi Tom.... look, um... here's our new song"
TC: "Ah OK, great. Let's have a look. [reads out loud]

'Fool, I wonder if you know yourself at all
You know that it could be so simple
I lay myself down
To make it so, but you don't want to know
You take much more
Than I'd ever ask for'

Right. Anything you want to say to me Tim?"
TR-O: "er.... no"

Also, is it disingenuous for the lead singer of a band who have played to tens of thousands of people to pretend to be overcome by the noise from the crowd? Yeah, it was quite a good reception, but was it all that good really? At one point Chaplain remarked how it was always really special being at a Keane gig; that the fans were just amazing. He'd been to other gigs, you know, but it was never quite the same.

Er... Yeah Tom. You're always on the stage at Keane gigs - it's bound to feel a bit different.

Ah, but I'm just quibbling now. I was slightly embarrassed to be there at all initially, but they put on a fantastic show and I'm now really pleased that I went. They're still not my favourite band in the world, and I still think that on record they are missing something.... but fair-dos, it was a good night and a good performance.

7.5 / 10


On a separate note, it is with heavy heart that I said goodbye this evening to an Australian who has been gracing our lives for the last few months. She's an absolute treasure and she's going to be sorely missed around these parts. Have a safe trip Hen but please hurry back.


  1. I miss her too.

    And you can't be edgy without guitars.

  2. Morrissey would cry if he read this. I'm feeling quite sad myself.

  3. With friends like these... No wonder the hen fled the country! :)

    And as for being surrounded by twats, at a Keane gig, were you surprised?