Those crazy Keane blokes are back on this space after a three-year absence. When they are two blocks away and they have their third album to promote, it was a no-brainer to go tonight. Sorry, ladies of Those Dancing Days at Mercury Lounge.
I do concede that the insanity of the Bowery Ballroom show three years ago can never be topped. Tonight, didn't surpass that show, but these guys know how to put on a show in any size venue.
Keane is not the coolest band to blog about when I'm all indie rock up in your business. I am a slightly apologetic Keane fan. I think there are a few bands that can make dynamic, catchy singles that can appeal to the masses while still be genuine and heartfelt. I can see the fellas sweating over lyrics in studios, rather than thinking what would sell to the Wal-Mart crowd.
More than anything, and the reason I would see the band again in another few years, is that they are an unabashedly energetic live act. Sometimes, I'll take a great live act first. As for tonight, a 90-minute set filled with their hits and the obligatory Springsteen cover to soothe the Jersey folks.
- The Lovers Are Losing
- Everybody's Changing
- Bend and Break
- Nothing In My Way
- Again and Again
- This Is The Last Time
- Playing Along
- Try Again
- Early Winter (written by Rice-Oxley for Gwen Stefani)
- We Might As Well Be Strangers
- You Haven’t Told Me Anything
- The River (Springsteen cover)
- Leaving So Soon
- You Don’t See Me
- Perfect Symmetry
- Somewhere Only We Know
- Crystal Ball
- ENCORE: My Shadow
- Is It Any Wonder?
I've always said about Keane, especially lead singer Tom Chaplin (who never took off his Members Only jacket), is that they are masters of making songs that seem big and important. With Chaplin, his voice soars over every song. He can be a Broadway/West End star in a musical when he's done being a pop star. It's Tom Chaplin starring in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!
When they have bonafide hits like "Somewhere Only We Know", "Is It Any Wonder?," "Bend and Break," and "Crystal Ball" in your catalog, you need to deliver that live and they do so with dazzling urgency. It also helps with their stage show that they bring all those fancy lighting effects. You have the omnipresent, Battling Seizure Robots lighting effects that will get the crowd riled up.
Since I last saw Keane, Tom went into rehab for dancing with the white lady, thus cancelling a whole tour. Last year, they released their third album, Perfect Symmetry, that didn't impress me. They've added more instruments (and a fourth touring member), but it felt uninspired and not ambitious. When you have a large fan-base and household name, you need to deliver. The songs lack the bombast that they are known for -- those shout from the mountain top lyrics. On the other hand, it's hard to live up to Hopes and Fears, a song-for-song well-crafted album. Even Iron Sea had knock-out tracks that will be remembered for years to come. Crystal Ball tonight was intense, I'll give you that.
Tonight in Montclair, or Essex County as Tom pointed out, I was impressed that the crowd was lively and sung out loud to their well-known songs. I do feel embarrassed when I see bands at the Wellmont say something along the lines like, "Are you ready to rock Montclair?" That doesn't scream rock 'n' roll to me like "Hello Cleveland!" Also, as much as I like going to the Wellmont, I'm still waiting for a show to really rock my socks off and leave me exhausted and overwhelmed.
In the end, bravo for Keane from coming out to Jersey and putting out a great show just as they would for Radio City Music Hall.
As a side note, I counted about 30 police, EMT and fire department personal in the house, and this has been like this every time I go. God forbid a real emergency happens in Montclair and they are all at the Wellmont. It's Keane, not Insane Clown Posse.
Following the lads on this U.S. tour is Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mat Kearney. Of course, this is not to be confused with Kearny, NJ. Mat's a smooth, easy-going guy with that middle-of-the-road, world weary voice that sounds like he has no-choice but to be a singer in life. If I had voice like his and looked cool in a hat, I'd work as hard as could to be a traveling musician.
Mat is an ever-present musician in the music scene, and before I ever looked him up just now to see his history, I had a feeling Alexandra Patsavas would be all over him. Sure enough, his music has been on about 20+ TV shows. The guy must be doing something right.
Last week, he released his second major label album, City of Black & White. Thus, he played tunes off the album, as well as his best known song, the VH1 friendly "Nothing Left To Loose."
- All I Have
- Fire and Rain (not a cover)
- Crashing Down
- Breathe In, Breathe Out
- Here We Go
- Closer to Love
- All I Need
- Nothing Left To Loose
Seeing him live, this guy just sweats coolness. He gets up there and does his thing with a smile. After his set, he was talking to the crowd and taking pictures with new fans.
Helio Sequence also tagged along on this tour. I've seen them enough and will see them in a couple of days, but they are decent.