Concert Review: Keane
KEANE's "Strangeland" tour-stop wows Portland Ballroom audience
When you're standing around in a crowd killing time at Portland's Crystal Ballroom waiting for the start of a good concert, all kinds of thoughts run through your mind. Things like "are those ginormous speakers mounted up on that wall 8 or 10 feet high?".
When English alternative rockers KEANE hit the stage at 9:15 Tuesday night, all that really mattered was the sound emanating from said speakers - and in one word, that sound was superb. The 4-member band from East Sussex who plays sold-out stadiums around the world - including England's 20,000 capacity "02 Arena" - were here to flex their stuff, and flex they did.
They opened the night with a riveting performance of "You are Young" sounding every bit as good live - perhaps better - as they do on their newest studio release, "Strangeland." From the get-go lead singer Tom Chaplin wowed the audience with his smooth, powerful and perfectly executed vocals, never showing signs of tiring. Ever the lovable showman, he worked the crowd during songs and threw in a little banter in between, at one point quipping: "Remember the time we played here with Snow Patrol?"
A lot of fans in the Crystal Ballroom audience seemed more familiar with KEANE's older material. However, the band is touring to promote last year's "Strangeland" and their setlist borrowed generously from it. Songs from the new release included the hit single "You Are Young," the jubilant "On the Road," the uplifting "Silenced by the Night," "Neon River," "Disconnected," the pensive "Sea Fog" and their picturesque "Sovereign Light Cafe'." Satisfactory fare, indeed.
Audience reaction was immediate and visceral for their earlier triumphs, particularly during such commanding hits as "Nothing In My Way" and "Is It Any Wonder?" from"Under the Iron Sea." "Everybody's Changing" from "Hopes and Fears" was another standout. One other crowd-pleaser was "Spiraling" from their third album, "Perfect Symmetry."
So far on the Strangeland tour KEANE has toured Europe, Asia, and the U.S. Band members of this hugely successful enterprise are: Tom Chaplin (lead vocals, organ, piano, acoustic guitar), Tim Rice-Oxley (piano, lead vocals, synthesizers, electric and bass guitar), Richard Hughes (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Jesse Quin (bass and electric guitar, synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals).
Any problems during the approximately 90-minute setlist? Certainly not from the band, those stellar, top-notch lads. But that guy who screamed so loudly during the encore vocal performance of their subdued and touching "Sea Fog?" On a night so otherwise perfect, probably best not to mention that.
A peak moment? Hands down, that would easily be when Chaplin invited the crowd to join in on "Somewhere Only We Know" - probably the one time everyone seemed to know all the words. With nearly 32 million hits on YouTube and still going strong, that song won't leave the repertoire any time soon, and we're thankful for that. Thanks KEANE, for coming to Portland, giving us fans far more than our money's worth…and making it such a memorable night.
Enormously successful in Europe, here's hoping KEANE's following continues to grow here in the Pacific Northwest -- they could test out even bigger speakers next time. ~ Cynthia Orlando