Keane – Birmingham Symphony Hall, 24/09/2019

Keane – Birmingham Symphony Hall, 24/09/2019


Dormant for the last seven years, Battle’s favourite sons Keane have returned with a strong new album, Cause and Effect (released just last Friday) and a rapidly selling tour.

It’s the first night tonight at the plush Symphony Hall, and the show begins, as does the new record, with the gently undulating sounds of ‘You’re Not Home’, a tentative opener that builds nicely with its echoes of Sigur Ros ‘Hoppípolla’, and breaks the audience in for a performance described as a celebration of the band’s songs by frontman Tom Chaplin.

And there certainly is a jubilant mood emanating from both the stage and the crowd as the band, (once a trio, but for some years now regularly a four-piece with the addition of bass player Jesse Quin), power through pristine versions of their songs old and new; ‘Bend and Break’ from debut album Hopes and Fears is greeted like an old friend, while cuts from the new album get a warm reception too.

Chaplin is keen to judge the audiences feelings on the new songs, modestly observing a ‘six out of ten on the clapometer’ for ‘Chase The Night Away’, one of the highlights of the new album. When he suggests that he is very unfit, (he actually looks anything but), he is loudly offered CPR by a quick-thinking fan in any event of a collapse!

Keane cornerstones ‘Everybody’s Changing’ and a mighty ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ are proffered relatively early on and are lapped up by the buoyant crowd, delighted to have another night with the band that had initially split after 2012’s Strangeland (their fourth album and fourth Number One).

The heartbreakingly personal ‘Strange Room’, addressing Tim Rice-Oxley’s marriage break-up, is revealed as Chaplin’s personal favourite of the new Keane crop, the pianist adding sweetly effective backing vocals to the singer’s delivery, while fellow newbie ‘Put The Radio On’ is just begging to be a radio jingle and would probably be a prudent choice of future single!

Ahead of the title track of 2008’s Perfect Symmetry (one of many songs to benefit from some seriously impressive on-stage graphics) Chaplin announces that the band have rehearsed 43 songs to select from, and that the show is likely to be there longest ever, though fan favourite ‘Snowed Under’ (an early B-side) is not among them, as the audience member who hopefully shouts for it finds out. Shame. But there is no shortage of singalong opportunities – ‘Spiralling’ is still a massively fun track and ‘Nothing In My Way’ is still brilliant, while big-hitters like ‘Bedshaped’ (itself once a B-side) and debut hit ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ (which ends the main set) are joyous, Chaplin’s voice absolutely soaring and belying the fact that he woke up the previous morning with tonsillitis, a condition apparently straightened out by the ‘rock doctor’!

A three-song encore of new album closer ‘I Want Your Love’, the ebullient ‘Crystal Ball’ from second (and best?) album Under The Iron Sea and Strangeland‘s ‘Sovereign Light Cafe’ rounds things off nicely. Who knows whether the band will continue to record and tour, but tonight proves that there is very much still a place for Keane in 2019.

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