Live @ Bristol University
May 1, 2004
Review & Photography: Steve Bateman

With the imminent release of their debut album Hopes And Fears - Tom Chaplin (vocals), Richard Hughes (drums) and Tim Rice-Oxley (piano), are undoubtedly the band of the moment.

"Some people won't like that we're not rock 'n' roll, we're not like Oasis" confesses songwriter Tim. But with the singles Somewhere Only We Know and Everybody's Changing dominating the airwaves, Keane have been thrust into the spotlight, and are currently halfway through their biggest tour to date.

Famously, Keane (who met at Public School in Kent) have a unique sound, in that their songs feature neither guitars nor bass, relying instead, on drums and piano to drive the epic and moving melodies. Chaplin's impassioned and soaring voice, has even led critics to draw comparisons to Bends-era Radiohead and Coldplay.

By incorporating emotional hooks / lyrics, Keane's delicate sound and stripped-down approach, could be described as sensitive rock - it has a universal appeal, and arguably, the songs will mean something to everyone.

Both Rooney and Bell X1, who are the support acts tonight, provide us with 2 very enjoyable sets, but as 9.45pm draws closer, the anticipation for Keane to take to the stage, has created a real buzz amongst the fans. Time is moving on, and at around 10.00pm, the audience is getting a little restless, until Keane's logo fills the video screen and they rush on stage.

"Hello, sorry we're late" exclaims the fresh-faced Chaplin, but this doesn't appear to be a problem to the audience now - the majority of whom, are probably here on the strength of the band's Fierce Panda and Island singles, as the LP doesn't even hit record stores until May 10. "We've got a new album coming out, which we've been wanting to make for ages, and this is on it, it's called Everybody's Changing" - a classic song, with a meaning that's further emphasised through Tom's heartfelt vocals.

Bend And Break, To The End Of The Earth and Sunshine, all sound very accomplished and highlight the 'emotional thread' running through each of Keane's songs. After joking that "Tim buys a new keyboard for every show," Tom then tells us that "We haven't played this song live much, but we think it's good - this is We Might As Well Be Strangers." Although it's sparse, its grace proves how simple songs, can also be the most effective.

The energy that the band gives off, really gets you into the songs. Chaplin is every bit the frontman - he dances around the stage, and clasps his microphone as if he'll never let go of it again, and Richard's soulful drumming, is complimented by Tim's exquisite piano playing. With his eyes closed tight and his head swaying, it appears as though he's lost in music.

"Did anyone buy our last single?" asks Tom, which receives a glowing response, "Well this is the b-side Snowed Under." The crowd sigh, to which he laughs heartily (I suspect he plays this trick quite often) - he continues "Every time I sing it, it puts a big smile on my face."

Keane are renowned for the high quality of their b-sides, and Snowed Under could have been a single in its own right. It features the uplifting lyric "I don't know why I waste my time, getting hung up about the things you say, when I open my eyes and it's a lovely day!"

Lyrically and musically, She Has No Time is more melancholy, due to the story behind it. "This is about somebody who's not in love with you" reveals Chaplin, "I know we've all been there - but Tim wrote this for me and it means a lot, even though it breaks my heart to sing it."

When Tom asks "How are your singing voices?" you can predict what's coming next. "This is a song about a place of solace, and I guess for you guys, it's somewhere only you know." This timeless piano-powered anthem is faultless, and even without Tom's request, would have had the Bristol crowd singing along to every word.

The encore features Allemande, This Is The Last Time and Bedshaped - which with its unforgettable opening and chorus, has to be one of my personal favourites.

Keane's success hasn't come overnight, but their recent meteoric rise, has resulted in them becoming one of Britain's premier bands - which judging by their reaction, hasn't even begun to sink in yet. Amidst cheers of appreciation from the fans, a gushing Tom finishes "Thank you Bristol, a month ago we were playing at the Louisiana, so this has been very overwhelming."

A very special thanks to Hannah @ Island Records, for all of her help, and to Keane + their management / security.