Keane - Manchester Arena
Credit to ‘em. In the good ole days they were used to filling this place for a couple of nights but back then people had so much spare cash rattling their round their pockets it was a nuisance. Nowadays, you watch your gig-going like you watch your weekly shop. To, no doubt, Keane’s relief, their fan base remains ever loyal and, on this evidence, they make more effort than most to reward that loyalty. So, rather than follow summer’s theatre tour with your regular second leg in the arenas, they make pull their fingers out and try something new. ‘New’ as in ‘not new at all if you’re Westlife, Shania Twain or Neil Diamond’. Et al. In. The. Round. Ooh. If anything was ever the preserve of the terminally uncool, it’s turning your back on your audience. Literally, like.
Like Keane give a flying one. Their cred with the groovy gang disappeared the moment they released a record. So, tonight they’re on a square stage on the arena floor. Above them a lighting rig as smart as it is huge provides the only staging. But this is Keane and Keane, no doubt, would say it’s about the music not the visuals. And with the band fixed in place, it’s up to Tom to make something of the awkwardness of the set-up. And boy does he work to make it work. No wonder he's so skinny these days.
As with those previous dates, Keane get greedy. Clearly, their confidence in their new material remains and much of the set comes from most recent album Strangeland. They play for a ridiculous two hours, which, of course, only makes them more un-cool. 23 songs. Count ‘em. You want value for your £30? It’s all here. As might be expected, the event takes a little while to warm up. A storming ‘Everybody’s Changing’ half a dozen songs in makes sure that the last few seated stragglers are on their feet. There’s no getting around the fact that a show of this length is primarily for the hardcore but a closing main set trio of ‘This is the Last Time', ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and that epic slice of miserabalism, ‘Bedshaped,’ is a real roof raiser. The latter, with the crowd in huge voice on the “What do I know?” refrain, is still their best song and tonight’s most stirring moment.
Keane, ever aware of how to keep their audience, exit drained. They earn that huge ovation. Look elsewhere for high jinks and danger. But keep them on your ‘good live band’ list.