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August 6, 2010

Concert review: Keane at Merriweather Post Pavilion

keaneIt had all the makings of a mediocre show: The lawn was largely empty, the weather soggy and overcast.

But those who did come to see Keane at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night wanted to see a great show -- not a middling one. Through sheer force of will, the crowd members made it happen. They screamed before, during and after nearly every song. They clapped, and belted out the lyrics and danced at their seats. The energy was unbelievable. Singer Tom Chaplin seemed genuinely surprised at their enthusiasm.

"You should give yourselves a hand," he said after a few numbers. They did ...

Keane responded with a dynamic 90-minute performance that saw the British rock trio dipping evenly into its three studio albums and new EP, "Night Train."

Unlike most of its contemporaries, Keane's songs are built around the piano instead of the guitar. Though Chaplin strapped on an axe for several songs, his fret work didn't add much to mix. Keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley, on the other hand, was the musical centerpiece. He's one of the most underrated and animated keyboardists in rock. He swayed on his seat at his electric piano, his left leg bouncing nearly as high as the ivories, head banging and fist-pumping in time.

keaneThe lanky, baby-faced Chaplin held himself a little more stiffly, occaisionally making grand gestures with his arms to punctuate the notes. Chaplin has a voice that would be at home on Broadway; even his softer notes can be sweeping. Last night, Chaplin's mike level was too low, and the other instruments occaisionally drowned him out.

Though a shade slow, "Everybody's Changing" was just as poignant live as in studio, and I'm fairly certain "Somewhere Only We Know" will go down as one of the best rock ballads from the last 10 years. A bare bones take on "Try Again," with both the drummer and bassist on hand percussion and Rice-Oxley on a stand-up piano, was a welcome break from all the electric numbers; I wish they'd played a few more this way. Though solos aren't Keane's forte, Rice-Oxley hammered away at his keyboard so fast on "A Bad Dream" his hands were a blur.

Chaplin turned the mike over to Rice-Oxley for "Your Love," saying he had "golden" pipes, but Rice-Oxley's voice was more reminiscent of Human League's Philip Oakley on a bad day. He's much better singing backup than lead.

The muggy weather, which opener Ingrid Michaelson called "a wet sponge," had the guys in Keane sweating through their shirts after a couple songs. Halfway through their set, they were soaked but smiling. Chaplin couldn't help but grin at the audience's relentless enthusiasm. Near the end of their set, he summed up the night in a few words.

"You must have amazing stamina," Chaplin said. "It's been absolutely awesome."

Keane's set started at 9:10 p.m. and ended at about 10:40 p.m. Album titles are listed in parenthesis.

1. Again and Again (Perfect Symmetry)
2. Bend & Break (Hopes & Fears)
3. Everybody's Changing (Hopes & Fears)
4. Nothing In My Way (Under the Iron Sea)
5. Clear Skies (Night Train)
6. This is the Last Time (Hopes & Fears)
7. Stop For a Minute (Night Train)
8. Try Again (Under the Iron Sea)
9. You Haven't Told Me Anything (Perfect Symmetry)
10. Spiralling (Perfect Symmetry)
11. A Bad Dream (Under the Iron Sea)
12. Is It Any Wonder? (Under the Iron Sea)
13. Your Love (Night Train)
14. Perfect Symmetry
15. Somewhere Only We Know (Hopes & Fears)
16. Bedshaped (Hopes & Fears)


My Shadow (Night Train)
Crystal Ball (Under the Iron Sea)


Before Keane went on, singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson and Travis front man Fran Healy helped liven things up. A couple songs into Michaelson's set, a little girl named Morgan threw a blue dolphin-shaped Silly Bandz up on stage. Michaelson picked it up and wore it for the rest of her performance. She and her five-piece band closed their set with a cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic." It was tame, compared to her earlier cover of Radiohead's "Creep," but a synchronized dance at the end of "Toxic" was killer. Later, during Keane's performance, the Jumbotrons showed little Morgan singing along with the band. Cute as a button.

(Handout photos)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Concert reviews


The show was incredible. The most high energy I’ve seen since the Doves last year. Just what you need to keep the lame sitters standing. In my opinion, concerts should be 90% to 95% high energy songs and that’s what Keane did last night. “Bad Dream” and “Try Again” were excellent ballad choices and while they’re slow songs, they were played with great intensity that pounded the chest and kept everyone standing. Great mix of old and new. Loved that they played “Your Love,” the best song on the new album in my opinion. Only song that was missing (big miss) was “The Lovers are Losing.” “Atlantic” would have been a great intro to the encore. Great use of a limited lighting package (could bring more of a stage set next time). Excellent job guys! 5 Stars.

It was a great show!! I was genuinely surprised that the turnout was as low as it was? Maybe scheduling the show before Arcade Fire and David Gray/Ray LaMontagne cut into sales, and the weather didn't help walk up traffic.
Keane did a fantastic set-list! I enjoyed Hopes & Fears, and Under the Iron Sea the most from their catalogue and having them perform the majority of their set from those two was a treat. Not so keen on the new disk, but the new songs merged well with the old.
Ingrid Michaelson + Morgan= Jazz Hands

Excellent show last night! First time I've seen Keane in concert and it was everything I wished for. Everyone was singing Bend & Break and Bedshaped felt like a religious experience- no joke. I thought Your Love was fantastic felt like we were with old friends with Rice-Oxley, cheering him on in his first solo. He had a vulnerability as he sang. Honestly one of the best shows I've seen- could have to do with my having fantastic seats and enjoying the lively crowd.


Saw you sitting a few rows back from me.

Without a doubt one of the most high energy shows I've ever seen. INCREDIBLE performance by one of my favorite bands.

I was at the show and we had a great time. We even got 1/2 price pit tickets off of Craigslist the day of the show. Like others we were worried about the meager attendance but you wouldn't have been able to tell from the band's reaction or the crowd's appreciation for the show.

Picking a nit did the Arcade Fire show the next night not merit a review? I like Keane but AF blows them out of the water!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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