Sometimes you find out about bands in the most hidden of places, bands that many are unaware of which have the potential for something huge. Bands that down the road could quite possibly be something bigger than any of us could ever know. This happened to me, while scanning through an indie e-zine I stumbled across a month ago. Contained within the sub pages, I see a write-up on a simple 3-piece European act named Keane. A name I thought I’d heard before, but didn’t really know that much about.
I figured I’d give them a listen after finding out their roots were firmly planted in the same crop as artists such as Coldplay and Radiohead. And damn, was I impressed after laying down the cash for Hopes and Fears!
Then, as if I was meant to find out more about them, I stumbled across a huge find indeed—the opportunity to listen to this treasure live at The BlueBird just two weeks later. So without question I scheduled a visit to one of the best shows this season in Denver.
Unfortunately I barely missed the first band, Aveo, which was disappointing considering I heard nothing but great reviews from the people standing around in the afterglow. However, I was extremely lucky to catch the second group, Matt Pond PA, who not only demonstrated a sound unlike any other, but also established the perfect mood for what was to come. This five piece, best described as a combination of Cursive’s dynamic cello rock mixed with a dash of Travis, spilled out emotion with each and every song. The room was in a true gaze daze as Matt sung his heart out, knocking over a beer or two in the process of his true dynamics. There was something pure and true about their performance. Something that felt right to us all…as if we were sharing the stage with them. Each member had an extreme amount of talent, and as a group, they clicked together so perfectly. It was quite beautiful.
Then, speaking of something beautiful, the wait was over. Keane jumped on stage to a somewhat small crowd for a performance of a lifetime. Unaware of what to expect, I found that what I was to hear live could quite possibly be some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever heard. Comprised of an extremely simple set-up, Keane had three main instruments for us to focus on: drums to the left, singer in the middle, and piano on the right.
At first, this seemed quite bare, but once the songs started it seemed to be just the right amount of instrumentation to convey the lush, deeply emotional sound that Keane is known for. Tom Chaplin’s vocals are simply gorgeous, extremely precise, deeply moving, and clean and true to their meaning. And let’s face it, after hearing them live it could be argued that he is one of the best vocalists of our time.
Let’s not forget the other two, for whom Keane would not be the band it is today. Tim Rice-Oxley on the ivories has found the way to create an entire array of instrumentation with a simple piano and has impressed me well beyond anything Coldplay could ever throw out there. His timing, playing off the dynamics of Tom’s vocals, were dead on and smooth as silk, in a way almost better than the recordings on “Hopes and Fears.” The crowd couldn’t keep their eyes off of the sparks these two demonstrated through their hour on stage, and for good reason. They smoked 90% of anybody who have graced the same stage. And finally, let’s not forget Richard Hughes, who stood back in presence, while at same time dominated the rhythms necessary for such thoughtful tunes.
All in all, Keane blew me away. It’s sad to see they didn’t have quite the support I thought they’d receive in numbers, but at the same time it was great to say I saw them well before the explosion they are sure to receive in the states in time. Emotion spilled over the crowd in huge quantities, and anyone there will agree that there are very few bands that could match the quality level these guys achieved live.
I really look forward to a future visit, but I have a sinking feeling it will be at a larger venue like The Fillmore and not in such an intimate setting at The BlueBird. Sometimes those bands you find out about in the under lit corners of a website become bands that take priority in your musical life. Keane is just one of those bands.