Keane, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

Tom Chaplin looks like a man whose flabber has never been so gasted. Keane's cherubic singer can scarcely believe the edifying affect his band has. As one observer puts it: "There's a lot of love in this room." And it's all centred on this threesome of well-brought-up types.

Tom Chaplin looks like a man whose flabber has never been so gasted. Keane's cherubic singer can scarcely believe the edifying affect his band has. As one observer puts it: "There's a lot of love in this room." And it's all centred on this threesome of well-brought-up types.

True, the average level of tumult may flag around watch-glancing numbers such as "Snowed Under" and "On a Day Like Today", but Keane's slightly mournful songs for quite content people look to have won the popular vote. Flush with tunes you thought you didn't know, Keane are akin to a benign computer virus - their traces lurk in the memory, but they'll do you no harm.

Chaplin himself is no fool: he knows the formula. Summing up "Bend And Break", Chaplin reveals that it's all about "getting through the bad times to get to the good times". All assembled feel his pain. The band's frontman is clearly too bewildered by Keane's rapid success for his gracious demeanour to be anything but sincere. Though the growing pain themes of fading affections and missed opportunities are quite apparent, he's ready to throw more light onto the shade of their compositions. "Can't Stop Now", he tells us, is "a song about having the guts to be yourself". For those who have experienced fancy dress parties, you know whereof he speaks.

For the Band That Have No Guitar-Player, the sound of Keane is, of course, the sound of their ivory-tickler, one Tim Rice-Oxley. If ever a man was rescued by the imposition of a double-barrelled surname, it is he. The animated Rice-Oxley dominates throughout, and never more so than on "Hamburg Song". Some may have found stirring moments of gentle reflection in the spartan arrangement. Others may have found it ponderous. Either way, "She Closes Her Eyes" is the night's podium moment

Rumour has it that there are a tribe of reclusive cave- people sealed off from civilisation, somewhere in the Outer Hebrides. They may be tiny in number, but scientists believe they are the only British people not yet to hear Keane's ubiquitous smash "Everybody's Changing". Said cave people had neglected to check out tonight's rendition, as every single person here knew every single word. Or were at least able to mumble convincingly.

It's been said that Keane are Radiohead in Kid A mode as imagined by A-ha. Naturally, Keane say they sound like nobody except themselves, but claiming true originality is a tough call, and there's no denying the similarities between the nice-boy-band triumvirate of Keane, Coldplay and Travis.

Whatever the comparisons, Keane's opening Brixton night is nothing less than all- conquering. After the bookend of "Bedshaped" is dispensed with, the trio return to the stage, not to milk the applause, but to gape at the spectacle of the audience that came to see their spectacle. Nice guys finish at 10.45 p.m.

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