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A NIGHT TO TREASURE
bangkok post / outlook | Wednesday August 16, 2006

Let’s establish one fact before the typical proceeding of a review. Keane were nowhere near packing Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani. The punters, at a rough estimation, stood at no more than 4,000. But that hardly mattered, because Keane gave one of the most heartwarming, intense _ in terms of sound and performance quality _ showcases that this country has seen in recent years. Even if you’re not a fan of their melodic, melancholic pop rock sans guitar, it was obvious how hard Tom Chaplin (vocals), Tim Rice-Oxley (keyboards/piano) and Richard Hughes (drums) have worked to achieve the global superstardom status that they hold.

It was possibly due to unfortunate ignorance that many failed to turn up at Keane’s first concert in Thailand. It was unfortunate, indeed, unfortunate for those who would rather revel in hip pop outfits, boy bands or rock ”legends” that have passed their sell-by dates by at least two decades.

The crowd was composed of expats and serious-looking music-lovers plus excitable teenagers, who were greeted to an intimate setting with Keane.

Standing taller than 180cm, the three band members kept everyone in the audience captivated.

Chaplin was energetic, sincere and loveable, running around the stage and making great attempts to speak Thai. Mind you, the baby-faced lad took a stab at Thai in the most ambitious way, and he succeeded. Chaplin ventured further than the typical ”Sawaddee Krub” (Hello) or ”Kob Khun Krub” (Thank you) as he managed to correctly say ”This is a love song” among many other arcane things.

Rice-Oxley was a man possessed with the ghosts of keyboards and synths while Hughes kept the rhythm in check for all and sundry.

It was an alarming thought to attend a gig without guitars, but the sounds these men produced were enveloping enough to forget the mighty power that guitars can create. Rice-Oxley conjured up guitar effects through synthesizers and racks, like a sound wizard working in front of a sonic cauldron. All that was missing was a cape.

Even though the attendance was a bit on a low side, there wasn’t a moment that one felt purposeless, but it must be said that when the slow numbers dragged on too long, sleepiness sometimes resulted.

Local post-rock darlings Goose warmed up the night. The five boys were clearly nervous to be on a big stage and in front of possibly the biggest audience that they have played for in their short band life. It was rather an odd coupling, Goose and Keane, but the Goose boys didn’t disappoint, even though they left some punters flabbergasted as they hardly said a word, and when they did, they mumbled.

But that’s what Goose and their music are all about. You can’t expect them to hop around, pretending to be over the top. That would be just useless.

Keane came on with The Iron Sea, and followed with Put It Behind You, both taken from the second album, Under the Iron Sea.

A massive singalong ensued during Everybody’s Changing. Keane dedicated Hamburg Song to His Majesty the King. The boys sure did their homework before coming to the Kingdom!

Somewhere Only We Know elicited the biggest cheers, the sort of karaoke atmosphere that results from too much alcohol consumption. A triplet of sweet melodies and emotional songs, A Bad Dream, This Is the Last Time and Is It Any Wonder followed before Keane took time off, waiting to be called for an encore.

They returned with Atlantic and ended the night with Bedshaped.

Keane didn’t just win the audience over with heartfelt performances. They brought a show with them. The lighting alone was worth paying for while the sound system was more than passable. It seemed that much effort had been put in to make the show possible.

Even if the gig wasn’t packed, and the local staff a bit confused, and no alcohol allowed, Keane still delivered. Let’s hope for more quality shows to swing this way.

2006.08.17