Keane w/ The Zutons (Monday, February 21st, 2005, Quest Club, Minneapolis)
From the enthusiasm of fans enjoying the Zuton's opening set at the Quest Monday, it was unclear whether they, or the top selling headliners Keane, were responsible for selling out the show. Liverpool’s The Zutons had previously appeared in Minneapolis at the Quest in November when they opened for Muse. Though they didn’t impress us then, they sure blew me away Monday night.
The Liverpudlian band, fronted by singer/guitarist David McCabe, put on a feverish show complete with plenty of overhead audience hand clapping. Highlights of their funky, catchy, and ever so slightly weird, Birthday Party-influenced songs included “Zuton Fever,” “Dirty Dancehall”, and “Pressure Point” (A song you may have heard in a US Levi’s ad.)
“No wonder they sound so good, they’ve got Frank Zappa on guitar,” I thought at one point, spying guitarist Boyan Chowdhury, whose frizzy hair and Zappa mustache made him the spittin’ image of the guitarist from a distance. The band closed with “Remember Me,” a recent single you may know from its catchy, retro-sounding chorus “Gotta keep the feelin’ keep the feelin’ in.”
Keane began their set just about spot on time Monday with “Can’t Stop Now.” Though many eyes were on baby-faced and angel-voiced singer Tom Chaplin, I encouraged my companion to keep an eye on keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley who had captivated me when first I saw the band at Dublin’s Oxegen festival in July of ’04. As the band has no bass or guitar player, it’s up to Rice-Oxley and drummer Richard Hughes to fill in the mix, and to the surprise of many skeptics that this instrumentation might work, they almost always succeed.
“We’re very pleased to have finally met you,” Chaplin announced after the first song, referring to the throat infection he came down with that caused them to cancel their first show originally scheduled for September 17th. Since then, the band’s fame in the US has continued to rise. Their debut album Hopes and Fears, currently a Billboard Top 100 album, plays well to the Cities 97 set but still satisfies the critics, and the band’s emotionally-tinged songs have a way of speaking to even the hard-hearted without being overly-sappy.
The challenge for Keane Monday was to live up to my first experience seeing them in Ireland last summer while swilling beer and lying shirtless on hot concrete as they played less than 50 yards away from me. (It was a pretty good day.) But even in the dark confines of the Quest, Keane’s music was sunny enough that it succeeded in taking me back to that moment.
As if reading my mind, “Sunshine” was the next song. Tim Rice-Oxley joined Chaplin on vocals.
“Bend and Break” was a bouncy set highlight. This song, always likely to cause an outbreak of chair-bouncing among listeners, is one of several Keane songs that Travis is still trying to write.
Chaplin apologized again for the cancellation of the bands first show, saying they hoped they could make it up to us in new songs, asking us to let us them know if they were good.
The first was called “Nothing In Your Way,” which sounded much like many on their first album, leading me to expect much of the same from their followup. The second song was a piano duet between Rice-Oxley and Chaplin. All I can say of that one is that it seemed a little self-indulgent and lost a few of us towards the back of the room.
“Everybody’s Changing” came next, then a B-Side they said means a lot to them, the album track “She Has No Time.” At the show in Dublin last summer, Chaplin had announced that Rice-Oxley (the band’s key songwriter, though all 3 band members are credited on most songs) had written the song for him when he was pursuing a woman who wouldn’t give him the time of day. People had cheered when he announced that since that song had been written things had really turned around in that particular relationship.
Monday night’s set proper closed with “Somewhere Only We Know,” a Billboard Top single this week, and another song Travis would have killed to have written.
There were 3 encores: The lullaby-like “Sorry,” “This is the Last Time,” and the finale “Bedshaped.”
This was the final night of Keane’s US Tour.