I wasn’t going to do this. I was going to leave well enough alone, now entrenched in my other life away from The Tripwire. But, after seeing the glorious Keane show in NYC on Wednesday night, I just had to pen a review seeing as one was lacking. Damn, you leave a place and it all goes to hell. Now I know how Bill Clinton feels.
So back to Wednesday...I moved my return flight from the West Coast up in order to get back in time to catch my favorite discovery of 2003 live in my new hometown. After having seen the band each time they played live in London from June-December last year (six London shows, for those of you counting at home), and having been blessed by gigs from the boys from Battle, East Sussex (site of the Battle of Hastings – History Ed) already a handful of times this year, I thought I knew what to expect. I thought wrong. Golden-voiced mouthpiece Tom Chaplin has grown into a full-fledged frontman, overcoming his initial slight awkwardness at the head of the stage to now project a more commanding presence. This newfound aura, paired with a new lighting arrangement made for a much more dynamic Keane experience. Chaplin’s vocals are always going to be note-perfect, but now with the more-engaging visuals, Keane exploded off the stage, a fact that was more than evident to the packed house at Irving Plaza, who cheered more loudly than at any of my prior Keane shows. This was not lost on the band either, as Tom grinned from ear to ear as he lapped up the crowd’s applause, thanking them often for their passion. And the songs? As brilliant as ever, maybe even more full and bombastic with repeated live airings, yet again proving non-believer Jay Harren wrong. “Bend and Break”, first UK single “Everybody’s Changing”, “Somewhere Only We Know”, and “This Is The Last Time”, all from their debut, Hopes and Fears, perhaps received the most crowd reaction, but it was tracks like “We Might As Well Be Strangers”, and non-album tracks “Allemande” and (at least in the US a non-album track) “On A Day Like Today” that resonated most personally, most likely due to their relative newness. But, as always for me, it’s set closer “Bedshaped”, a b-side from that first Fierce Panda single, that always brings the chills, reminding me why it was my favorite song of 2003. An amazing end to an amazing gig. If you somehow have not seen this band live, do whatever it takes to see them. It’ll reunite you with the feelings you had when you first fell in love with music. Big ups to Jenn Zeller and Brent Reineke for being my enablers, as always.