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As a concert-goer, there’s no greater bummer than seeing a band you’re crazy about phone it in after months or arduous touring. Lucky for us, the well-loved British rockers of Keane were not ones to pull this stunt—after a several year hiatus from making music and doing a high-profile tour, they kicked off a three-continent summer spectacular at the House of Blues in Boston last night, and couldn’t have been more thrilled to be back in action to promote their spring release, Strangeland. They’re one of those rare groups that can attract an audience ranging from high school teens to the middle-aged and everywhere in between, and all walks of life seemed to be represented at the jam-packed show.
After a brief set from openers Mystery Jet got the audience going, lead singer Tom Chaplin, fellow co-founder Tim Rice-Oxley, bassist Jesse Quin, and drummer Richard Hughes took the stage to rancorous applause that had been waiting since their last album’s tour back two years ago. “It’s lovely to be back here in Boston!” the vocalist announced, beaming, and they launched immediately into two songs off the new, well-reviewed album. New material would consume quite a bit of a nearly two hour long set—of the sixteen new tracks on Strangeland, nine were dispersed between their biggest hits from their 2004 debut Hopes and Fears and sparsely represented second and third album highlights. Some of the best from the new album include “Neon River”, “You are Young”, and “On the Road”—the last of which, Chaplin revealed, just may be the next single from the album to be released in America.
Watching Keane at work is a unique experience for those used to a more standard rock setup. Chaplin leaps around and gestures with passion as he brings his killer vocals to each track, Quin and Hughes keep the beat in check on bass and drums, respectively, but possibly the best part of watching this group perform is the incredible keyboard work that Tim Rice-Oxley does. Though one wouldn’t know it at first glance, Keane is conspicuously missing a lead guitarist—a very deliberate move on their part, and Rice-Oxley ensures you hardly know it by creating sometimes vibraphone-sounding, sometimes more electric riffs on two keyboards during each song. His Yamaha leads most of the Keane repertoire along with Chaplin’s voice, and there is occasion (especially with the Strangeland tracks) for him to employ a second, smaller red keyboard that he plays at the same time. The level of focus and innovation on his part is humbling to watch, and helps the group sound even better than they do in studio.
The fact that Keane delivered an energy-packed, exciting set was no surprise, but their thanks to the fans for their support – even after a four-year hiatus – felt completely genuine, and their performance reflected that. After a rousing, audience-sung chorus of “Somewhere Only We Know”, Chaplin expressed his personal thanks. “Good old American whoomping and hollering… been away from it too long. Two years is too long!” he smiled, and the band returned for a three-song encore including their current single “Silenced By the Night”. From top to bottom, this show was only the beginning of a well-deserved, long awaited Keane comeback.
Read our exclusive backstage interview with Keane here!