Keane in Concert

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to see Keane performing live in concert at a local venue. I admit that I'm something of a latecomer to the band, having started listening to them just in the past year after they cropped up on a Pandora station. I've become a huge fan in that year, however, so I jumped at the chance to see them live, especially after watching some videos of their concerts (and by "jumped" I mean I kept saying "I really want to go see them" and bought my ticket the day before the concert). As I'd expected, neither Keane nor the opening act disappointed in the least.

The opening act was a band called, after their frontman of the same name, Patrick Watson (here's their official website). The fact that there were two bands performing that night hadn't really crossed my mind; unless you have previous knowledge of the band, I get the impression that the general attitude toward opening bands is that of the attitude normally held toward the tagging-along friend: "Yeah, we'll deal with him and be nice to him, but we really want to hang out with his friend." I could be (and most likely am) way off-base with that assumption, of course, but whatever. In any case, Patrick Watson (band) came onstage and we gave them a warm welcome. They had five members: One on the violin, one on the bass, another on the drums and saw (I'll mention that more later), Patrick Watson (man) himself on the piano and vocals, and a guy on the guitar who, by Watson's own admission, they'd "picked up on tour a few days ago".

After acknowledging the audience, they sat down and started playing a song, and I was immediately blown away. The band's sound is fairly bare--the only processing that was going on was a little echo, and that was well-done--but good God is it beautiful. The upright piano Patrick was using, like the one that can be heard on their studio songs, was ever-so-slightly out of tune enough to give it an incredibly rich and warm tone, complemented by the string of incandescent bulbs wrapped around the stage equipment, at times flashing and at times dimming in sync with the music. All the songs played were off the band's most recent album, Adventures In Your Own Backyard (which I highly recommend buying). The only word I can use to describe the performance was ethereal, and it stayed that way despite thumping bass lines and drum lines coming in at various points. Perhaps it was kept that way by the fact that the drummer played the saw at several moments. If you have never seen someone play the saw live, I suggest you place it on your bucket list. Overall, the first half of the concert was amazing; Patrick Watson (man and band) were friendly, interactive with the audience, and excellent musicians.

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After a short break--in which I of course ran out and purchased merchandise like the gullible sucker I am, including the abovementioned album--the main attraction took the stage. Their staging was much simpler than Patrick Watson's, with the only furniture being the drum stand upstage and the keyboard on stage left. And so the concert began. The first song was an appropriately energetic "You Are Young", a fantastic track to start the concert. The band moved through the set of twenty-two songs (no, I didn't count, wait until the second to last paragraph), alternating not only between tracks from their most recent album, Strangeland, and older favorites, but also between upbeat and softer pieces. The latter alternation was particularly well done, I thought; it prevented us from getting tired yet kept us moving along with the songs, after the first nineteen of which they walked off stage. They soon returned for an encore, which they began with "Sea Fog", my personal favorite track. Two more songs and they left for good.

There are two main reasons that I enjoy this band so much. First, they rely heavily on keyboards for the prominent melodies in songs instead of the guitar or bass, and I'm a sucker for anything on the piano in a song. Second, Keane, more so than any other band I've heard, seems capable of conveying raw emotion in their music, helped an incredible amount by Tom Chaplin's vocals. The man has the single most amazing voice I've ever heard, and I say that because I am very hardpressed to find a difference between the vocal sound on albums and that in concert. Most artists are a little rougher live, but Chaplin just stays spot-on through an astonishing range of pitch and volume; it's like the man has an autotuner in his throat only without the processed sound. Moreover, his voice is simply beautiful; he made us feel like we could sing along perfectly, right in-sync with him. Were many of his notes far off the high end of my range? Yes. Could I hit them without falsetto? Most likely not. Did I try anyway? Oh yes.

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After the concert, I picked up a limited edition hatch print, because again, I am a gullible pawn in a capitalistic economy. This I took directly to the side stage door of the venue, because after this concert there was no way imaginable I wasn't getting all four signatures. Tim, Richard, and Tom all came out, and I managed to wrangle my way through the crowd each time and grab a signature. Yet after the third, the crowd thinned considerably. Where was Jesse, the fourth and final link in my signed hatch print chain?

Well, turns out he was at a pub around the corner, which I discovered three hours later with the only three other people who were left hanging around. I'm massively glad I stayed, though, because it meant 1) I received one of the two set lists posted backstage when the stage manager closed up for the night and 2) Jesse addressed the poster specifically to me because I'd waited so long. After the end of an absolutely amazing concert, I can officially declare myself a dangerously obsessive fan.

So watch out, bands that are good enough to pique my interest: if you play near my hometown, I will get all of your signatures, though it means sitting against a concrete wall for two and a half hours. That I vow.


Disclaimer: To avoid any potential concerns, and because connotations are not easily conveyed over the Internet, I am not a dangerously obsessive fan. However I might wait against a concrete wall for a while.