Keane - Cardiff International Arena
It used to be easy to write off Keane as the winsome and even less hip siblings of Coldplay but times are changing and maybe the drugs did work as, on this evidence, Keane have shredded the earnest-indie blueprint and have set a new course for the Land of Make Believe. Close your eyes and you could be forgiven for believing yourself transported back to a time when Spandau Ballet and ABC ruled the top 40 with sequinned fists. Heck, even with your eyes open the stage set, featuring blocky retro graphics straight from the ZX81, screams 1980s louder than David Van Day in a set of deely-boppers and pink legwarmers.
Closer inspection, however, reveals the fraud, we’ve been hoodwinked for the stage is not populated by New Romantics, those glamorous, angular starlets from a planet yet undiscovered but, rather, by the Eton bob-a-job week scout group. Yes there may well be a touch of glitter on Tom Chaplin but it fails to paper over the cracks of a band that just don’t quite get it. Sure you can rip off Bowie and churn out some old school pop music but if you don’t look the part it is a dereliction of duty. There’s no excuse really, Duran Duran were from Birmingham of all places but by God they had you believing in their hype – of course Le Bon lives on a luxury yacht in the Med, what could be more natural? Nicky Wire wore a feather Boa on the streets of Blackwood, his weekly receipt of a bloody nose a badge of honour awarded for going the extra mile for your art. Must do better Chaplin!
Yet, despite this failure to ultimately convince where it matters Keane have nevertheless succeeded in confounding critics and fans alike with their new direction. They must surely be congratulated for this reinvention as there was evidently plenty of mileage left in the tedious, drab safety of lumpen indie fodder, as Elbow will undoubtedly testify. So, on balance, this must be regarded as a brave move and, therefore, a ‘good thing’ and, based upon this reception, the fans have already taken that the leap of faith; some are even dancing. Dancing to Keane! Was this not one of the harbingers of the Apocalypse? Hell, there’s a lot to be said for providing the public with a bit of fun and I certainly won’t be damning this band for having the balls to take a new direction.
Forget what they teach you in school these days, the 80’s was the zenith of pop music. Sure it was easy to sneer at the Durannies from behind your copy of Sounds (with Andrew Eldritch scowling from the cover) but time has proven that cynicism to be misplaced and the pop of the 80’s is now revered as the golden era. The girls, as ever, knew where it was at and now those ageing boys, having filed away their copies of Mojo, are left standing at the back of a Snow Patrol concert wondering how the hell it ever came to this. Listen to an old man, John Lydon is now advertising butter substitutes on national television; there was a future after all and it was in promoting dairy produce. Go on say something outrageous…What’s that Johnny? Probiotic yoghurt is overrated? What a clever boy. Credibility has been debunked, so ditch the shackles of your oppression and get out and celebrate the new-found joy of Keane before the fading of their light.