Keane review – note-perfect return with added emotional wallop

Keane review – note-perfect return with added emotional wallop

After the chart-steamrollering success of their 2004 debut album Hopes and Fears, singer Tom Chaplin’s drug and alcohol addiction meant things had gone badly awry by the time Keane took an “indefinite hiatus” 10 years ago. However, here they are, packing out arenas at least partly due to the startling second life of debut single Somewhere Only We Know, a TikTok phenomenon which has notched up a-billion-and-a-half streams.

The band, who reformed in 2019, seem as surprised as anyone to be here. “Hopes and Fears … 20 years. It’s incredible,” beams Chaplin, and yet Keane have grown into their own skin. The singer is a far more accomplished frontman than the rather earnest, self-conscious performer he once was. With his rake thin physique, short grey hair, Rishi Sunak length trousers and voice that soars into the choruses, Chaplin owns the stage as effortlessly as if he was in front of his bedroom mirror. The band are note perfect, but have the endearing body language of childhood friends who have had their ups and down and are relishing a second chance.

Keane on stage in Leeds.View image in fullscreen

The presentation – white light bathing a white stage that extends into the audience – emphasises how minimal instrumentation (voice, bass, piano, drums) produces a sound that is epic and atmospheric but never bombastic. Perhaps Keane were never as bland as some people said they were, but age and experiences have brought emotional wallop. Chaplin even admits to being “a bit tearful” as the highly enthusiastic crowd shriek in appreciation and form a massed choir of woah woahs.

It’s not all about “that song”. The likes of Everybody’s Changing, Perfect Symmetry and the lovely Sovereign Light Café hit similar sweet spots between agony and ecstasy. Still, Somewhere Only We Know is met with a sea of people filming on their phones and tightly hugging couples. Written by pianist Tim Rice-Oxley in his parents’ front room, the song remembers a special place in childhood and, as thousands sing it here, has clearly become a source of comfort and joy to a multitude of others.

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  • Touring the UK until 11 May; then Europe and festivals into the summer

  • This article was amended on 5 May 2024. An earlier version incorrectly said that Tom Chaplin had had a marital breakdown, and misnamed Tim Rice-Oxley as “Tom”. Also, the three Keane members were childhood friends; there were not four friends.