Review: KEANE w/ Youngblood Hawke at The Tabernacle – 1/24

Keane - Leila Regan-Porter

Keane – Leila Regan-Porter

With a crowd already reaching capacity at the gorgeous Tabernacle in Atlanta, Youngblood Hawke might have had their work cut out for them to keep the Keane fans’ attentions. But the skinny youngsters have apparently been the honing their already giddy stage presence, having still not tired of leaping across the stage and
flipping their manes back and forth. And let’s not forget, this is two of the members’ second foray into the indie rock world, with Iglu & Hartly being the first.

All the members have managed to stay eager, chipper and remarkably skinny while on the road, armed with only an EP and a helluva catchy song. Lil’ Miss Alice Katz’ Stevie Nicks harmonizing is still fresh, and Sam Martin’s late ‘60s mop and enthusiasm is still infectious. Now if only they can just release their debut album, we will welcome them fully into our hearts.

Keane - Leila Regan-Porter

Keane – Leila Regan-Porter

The crowd was as uncontrollably dizzy with excitement as adult music lovers can be by the time Keane got to the stage. This is what happens when you leave your fans for almost eight years, while still putting out stellar music. As “You Are Young,” from the band’s latest release, Strangeland, kicks off the set, the crowd goes berserk, and it’s obvious that Tom Chaplin’s voice still climbs the highest reaches of the stratosphere and Tim Rice-Oxley’s pianos keys still chime straight to the heart. They can absolutely cause the most epic of feelings felt in a live performance. It’s where the band first captured hearts and it’s where they still shine.

When the newly-minted quartet launches into Strangeland’s “Silenced By The Night,” it becomes evident that Chaplin has inherited Freddie Mercury’s stage presence, soaring vocals, genuine joy, ability to stand on his tip toes while punching the air with his fist to punctuate a high note and still not look like a berk. Throughout the set, everyone can plainly see the camaraderie and history that goes way back between Chaplin and Rice-Oxley is still sweet and tender. Chaplin introduces one song Rice-Oxley wrote about the former’s heartache, explaining how there is someone else who has felt the same way you feel: “We’re all the same.”

With (a personal favorite, I hasten to add) “Spiraling,” we can recall the joy of the slightly unusual 2008 departure for Keane. The slight edge that came with this record was a welcome breath of ‘80s air (not an oxymoron, in this case), as well as a moment of epic swagger, with touches of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” and Nik Kershaw’s “Wouldn’t It Be Good.” When Chaplin strides the drum platform and shouts, “Did you want to start a war?,” he does it with comfortable command, like a dictator of pop. Chaplin carries the torches left from the aforementioned Mercury and Kershaw, heroes of British pop music, a genre where you can unashamedly not walk the line between rock and pop, but just remove it altogether.

Crowd favorites “Is It Any Wonder?,” from sophomore release Under the Iron Sea, and “Somewhere Only We Know,” from debut Hopes and Fears, show Keane in all their glory, bringing a strange questioning to everything with a swagger that shows both confidence and vulnerability. It’s almost like they haven’t aged a day since their debut, and yet there has been a lifetime of learning how to deal with soaring highs, plentiful accolades, the British music press’ backlash, crippling insecurities, and the effort of how to just keep going, put out more music, tour, rinse repeat. But the lads have learnt well, looking more confident and successful now as ever before, ready to join the stalwarts of British Pop. – Leila Regan-Porter

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