Brit-rocker Keane wows local crowd

Daily Arts Writer
Published February 18, 2005

Energy was in the air Wednesday night as the Michigan Theater was swarmed with a diverse group of music fans. From loyal teenage girls in Union Jack T-shirts to still-rocking thirtysomethings, everyone was there to see the headlining band, Brit-rock darlings Keane.

Chicago-based group The Redwalls opened the show. They may claim to be from the Windy City, but they sound like they’re from Liverpool. All four members wore sport coats, shared mics on three-part harmonies and their lead-guitarist sang with a playful, Lennonesque scream. A band that started off the evening by insulting the audience clearly won them back when listeners cheered as The Redwalls walked to the lobby to sign autographs.

After a short intermission, The Zutons hit the stage with their kinetic blend of rock, funk and soul. The three guitarists and lone female saxophonist staged a musical assault; they never stopped moving, dancing and shaking, eventually bringing the audience to their feet in giddy communion.

The Zutons’ jaunty basslines and driving beats on crowd favorites “Pressure Point” and their closer, “You Will You Won’t” were the set’s high points. As the last chord of The Zutons’ dynamic show faded and the raging applause of the crowd filled the hall, it seemed unlikely that the subdued piano-rock of Keane could sustain the crowd’s adrenaline rush.

The stage lights vanished, darkness descended and the entire audience went into hysterics before Keane set foot on the stage. Bright white lights framed the trio as they walked out to shrieks and cheers. Singer Tom Chaplin danced around, bathed in a blur of red and white light that eerily matched his outfit, before introducing “Everybody’s Changing.”

With their simple setup of percussion, piano and voice, Keane’s performance could easily have become tiresome and repetitive. However, their charm captivated college-rockers and teenyboppers alike. After testing out a few new songs, including the memorable “Hamburg Song,” the band returned to their current hit “Somewhere Only We Know” to close out the set.

Throughout the show Chaplin was visibly and audibly humbled by the crowd’s praise, expressing his gratitude over and over. Already used to immense success in the UK, their disbelief at receiving such a tremendous reaction so far from home in a Midwestern college town seemed genuine. While their road to stardom in the States may have only begun, Keane are most certainly on their way.