Some concerts that you attend are almost religious in their fervor. The band is hot, the venue is perfect and the crowd is wild in appreciation. All the planets were aligned when British trio Keane came to town after a long absence and the Montreal crowd did their best to persuade them not to be so long in between performances.
The night got off to a smoky (atmosphere not actual smoking, of course), bluesy retro-rock start with opening band Rocco DeLuca and the Burden. Signed to Kiefer Sutherland’s Ironworks label, the 5-piece band is not really known north of the border, but that did not seem to bother the crowd at all. The band plays a type of music in which you can hear influences from the likes of Robert Plant, Neil Young and Jeff Buckley. Playing several tunes from their debut album like “I Trust You To Kill Me”, “Speak to Me” and a new song they had not previously played live before called “Junky Valentine”.
Band leader and lead singer Rocco DeLuca plays a distinctive Dobra steel guitar and, in plain English, plays the heck out of it. At times looking like he is performing an act which is against the law to do in public (use your imagination, people!) he gives that guitar a complete working over. There is plenty of innovative strumming, fingering and body language going on when he plays. This guy is fairly comfortable onstage as he has opened for the likes of Taj Mahal and John Mayer, but on this night, I don’t know if it is his habit, but he seemed to have forgotten who he was playing for and during many of his solos he would solely interact with his bassist, Dave Beste.
During their 90 minute set the members of Keane, lead singer/piano/guitar Tom Chaplin, drummer Richard Hughes and keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley, were all about interaction with the euphoric crowd. The beautiful and recently renovated L’Olympia was packed and filled with the palatable hum of anticipation even before the band hit the stage. Once onstage everyone seemed to explode and the crowd, in their obvious appreciation for the three lads from the south of England, became the loudest I had heard at a show in a long, long time. From the beginning, especially head banging and legs continuously splayed keyboardist Rice-Oxley, everyone there was sweaty from the exertion of the evening. Everyone brought their ‘A’ game and gave it all. There were no filler songs from the band and as a result there were no polite applauses after a song, just screaming, foot stamping and prolonged clapping. The band seemed to genuinely be touched and feed off of the applause they were getting. In a very English soccer way they often would applaud the crowd themselves.
If you don’t know too much about this band, well, you are certainly missing something special! They are one of the bigger bands at the moment in the U.K. and only use two instruments and a human voice to create their larger than life sound. These boys do not use guitars of any sorts. Well, that is not completely true as lead singer Chaplin brought out a beautiful Gibson acoustic for one number. But with them this was a truly ‘experimental’ moment. It worked though and the crowd ate it up with a spoon.
From the very first number the evening became like on big sing-along. And not just the hits, but almost on every song the crowd belted out the lyrics along with Chaplin. Not that he needs any help whatsoever. His soaring voice is perfect for the build at the chorus type songs that Keane is famous for. Everyone one of their songs almost begs to be sung along to.
The simple set in back of them was comprised of eight or so smallish hanging video screens onto which were projected images or live footage of the band in action. Lighting was also simple but effective and really in sync with the music. The focus really was on the band and there was no complaints by anyone.
Diehard fans might have been worried about the fresh out of rehab Tom Chaplin, but other than looker very fit and trim he seemed like the same old guy. Every note was in tune and he moved around the stage constantly. Showing his appreciation for the love the crowd was showing the band, Chaplin delved into the crowd on two different occasions. It definitely was a night to remember making this reviewer hope that the band would quickly release a third album and come back to town as soon as humanly possible.
1) The Iron Sea
2) Put It Behind You
3) Everybody’s Changing
4) Nothing In My Way
5) We Might As Well Be Strangers
6) Bend and Break
7) Try Again
8) Your Eyes Open w/guitar
9) Hamburg Song
10) Fly to Me
11) Leaving So Soon?
12) This Is the Last Time
13) A Bad Dream
14) Somewhere Only We Know
15) Is It Any Wonder?
17) Crystal Ball