For a band that mostly makes songs about how hard it can be to get out of bed in the morning, Keane have achieved incredible longevity.
The East Sussex band first formed 15 years ago, when they were mocked by critics for being too far on the pop side of the indie spectrum, but they’ve sold over 10 million albums worldwide, and they’ve just released their fourth album, which returns to that early, inoffensive, piano-rock sound, so their formula must be working.
Tonight, the fans get wildly excited by those early hits, "Everybody’s Changing" and "Somewhere Only we Know", both from Keane’s debut album Hopes and Fears, and "Is it any Wonder" from their second album Under the Iron Sea. It's the tunes that tap into memories of university antics and teenage folly that strike a chord. The crowd gets a bit bored and makes small talk during the band's more experimental departures, such as Spiralling and Perfect Symmetry, where the 80s synth-pop sound is met with nothing more excitable than polite applause.
Lead singer Tom Chaplin is oblivious to any drop in enthusiasm from his fans, though, as he stands on a soapbox, legs apart, nodding smugly, acknowledging an adoration that isn’t always there. He doesn’t seem to notice whether the fans are chatting to their mates or cheering him on, as he shouts: "It’s absolutely lovely to be here tonight".
Tunes from the new album, Strangeland, that hark back to Keane’s early piano-led pop music, lift the mood. "On the Road" is a simple, happy song about letting friends help you on life’s journey, while mellow keyboard-led melodies on “Disconnected” tell a tale of a gulf appearing in a relationship.
As the night rolls on, themes of young love, sun-dappled days and the confusion and possibilities of youth are played out over and over as one track leaks into the next. Fuelled by beer and nostalgia, the crowd leave happy despite a lack-lustre finale. It may not be the most exciting band around, but Keane is still pulling in big crowds, and reminding them of their teenaged selves. Possibly the most moving moment of the night took place during the opening number, You Are Young from the new album, where the band and audience were chanting "you are young" and pumping their fists in the air, united in trying to halt the passage of time.
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You Are Young
Day Will Come
Leaving So Soon?
The Starting Line
Bend and Break
A Bad Dream
On The Road
We Might As Well Be Strangers
This Is The Last Time
Somewhere Only We Know
Is It Any Wonder?
Sovereign Light Café
Silenced By The Night