Keane - Manchester Academy 3 - 30.07.03

Romo, Electroclash, School Discos - it seems every couple of years there's somebody trying to bring back the spirit of the 80s in some form or other. Most of the time they fail though because they simply don't understand that alongside the fashion aspects of the era there was a love of simply honest pop tunes. Simple honest pop tunes are what Keane have by the truckload and it also helps that while most bands are falling over themselves to sound like a 60s tribute band, Keane have an anti-rock agenda of "No Guitars Allowed".

"Somewhere Only We Know" is the bands overblown orchestral epic with pounding piano chords and vocalist Tom Chaplin doing his best Reborn In The 80s lounge lothario impressions. Strangely enough he looks a little like Jamie of long forgotten Manchester band Marion and has the shy introverted look of James from Busted, but at the same time manages to overcome it all by turning Tom Chaplin into confident stage persona Chaplin who's slightest moves are taken straight from Tony Hadley or Bryan Ferry. "Bend And Break" mixes Dexys Midnight Runners vision of Northern Soul with electronic overtones and if it wasn't for the pop charts aversion to soul pastiches (Spice Girls "Stop" and S Club's "You" excepted) it would be a sure fire number 1 hit. This being a support slot for Longview it takes the single "Everybody's Changing" to get people to take note, one of those radio hits which seemed to attract attention from stations such as Virgin and 6 Music who would normally avoid a synth pop song. We have no time for the forgettable "She Has No Time", but a song which may be called "I Can't Stop Now" mixes the best parts of My Life Story and Gene and this is a move that can only be applauded. The follow up to the aforementioned debut single, "This Is The Last Time", is a song which for me sums up the best and worst aspects of pop in the past 3 years. Very much in the vein of Billy Joel or New Radicals songwriter Greg Alexander - fine pop records, but so predictable that it's hard to distinguish them apart from Mel C's, Geri Halliwell or Ronan Keating latest records.

Keane, alongside bands such as Dogs Die In Hot Cars, are making pop music with it's own distinct personality while still taking their props from the classic pop bands of the 70s and 80s.

Alex McCann

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