Known for introspective, piano-based pop-rock songs, the four-piece band from East Sussex delivered a high-energy live show that belied the rather subdued nature of its repertoire. At the SM MOA Arena last October 2, Pinoy fans got not just a taste, but a hearty serving of old and new favorites in the form of pure, flawless showmanship.
The stage was simple enough, a huge change from the elaborate backdrops of other concerts. But, to be honest, it mattered little. Starting with the lighthearted track “You Are Young” from the new album, the band proceeded to deliver a staggering 26-song set with hardly a break in between.
More than two-thirds of the setlist consisted of songs from the newly released “Strangeland” and the breakthrough album “Hopes and Fears,” with the rest being a mix of hits from the other three charttopping albums: “Is It Any Wonder?” from 2006’s “Under the Iron Sea,” “Spiralling” and “The Lovers are Losing” from 2008’s “Perfect Symmetry,” and “Stop for a Minute” from 2010’s “Night Train.”
The lack of lead guitars and the piano at the forefront, which is the band’s trademark, set the breezy tone for the entire set. Frontman Tom Chaplin’s distinctive, unwavering tenor sounded even more beautiful live; it wove haunting melodies with Tim Rice-Oxley’s animated piano-playing, while soaring effortlessly on top of Jesse Quin’s steady bass undercurrent and Richard Hughes’ jaunty drumbeats.
The people in the crowd were surprisingly no strangers to “Strangeland,” despite the fact that the band’s fifth album has just been released. New singles such as “Silenced by the Night” and the potential lighter-waving anthem “Disconnected” were as well-received as the familiar radio hits.
Not surprisingly, the tracks from the phenomenal 2004 debut “Hopes and Fears” elicited the most screams and sing-along moments. The band gave a sample with “Bend and Break” and “Everybody’s Changing” early on in the set, and, several songs down the line, they unleashed the old favorites one after another: the joyride “This Is The Last Time,” the bonafide tearjerker “Somewhere Only We Know” and the heartbreaking ballad “Bedshaped,” which closed the show on a rather melancholy note.
Of course, no concert should end like that; the band came back for a 3-song encore, starting with “Sea Fog” and “Sovereign Light Café” from the new album, and ending with the upbeat “Crystal Ball” from “Iron Sea.”
Judging by the satisfied smiles on people’s faces that night, it’s safe to say these British strangers have conquered another strange land on this side of the planet. A welcome departure from the adrenaline-charged rock concerts we’ve had of late, Keane’s Manila show felt more like a soul-soothing sonic cruise peppered with a few fist-pumping moments.
It might seem contradictory to the nearly palpable energy that the band exhibited onstage for about two hours, but the post-concert high thankfully wasn’t one of dizzying euphoria. Rather, it left you with a warm, steady, pleasant kind of buzz—the kind that gave you sweet dreams and wistful thoughts.
Just like Keane’s music usually does and, hopefully, always will.
“The Strangeland Tour: Keane live in Manila 2012” was presented by Trilogy Live and Dayly Entertainment.