The gesture solidified the state of Keane’s music career as, frankly, a boring one. This wasn’t an All Time Low concert, people. This was a sophisticated show. People didn’t throw bras and roses on stage; they threw a freaking book.
Just after a perfect rendition of “Somewhere Only We Know,” Chaplin chuckled as he read the crowd an excerpt from the war novel’s back cover with his charming, BBC-like British accent: “The filth, the weariness and the monotony,” he recited, to a roar from the crowd.
What an appropriate description.
It’s not that Keane are bad musicians. On the contrary, their show was an impressive result of fifteen years of dedicated practice to their craft, mixed with impeccably trained sound and stage crewmen. The tempo on “Everybody’s Changing” was not a hint sped up. The harmonies of “Neon River” were balanced and leveled near to the point of auto-tune.
But Keane’s too-perfect performance at the House of Blues did nothing for their already monotonous sound, where nearly every track is comprised of the same hihat, to snare, to bassdrum, to lifted hihat beat.
To be fair, Keane’s ability to pull off a studio-clear sound during a live performance is nothing to scoff at. Chaplin can work a crowd with his lovable awkwardness of a kindergartener, gesturing grandly at the crowd with holy movements of his hand (the singer needs something to do without a guitar). But while there is a complex mix of hope and pessimism to the band’s tinker-toy riffs, the four-piece – all taking stage in the same chocolate leather British loafers with freshly-cut side parts to their hair – appeared to just be going through the motions the entire time.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Strangeland gained success on Billboard, debuting at #1 in the UK and in the top 20 in the US. Keane’s excitement to start their US tour in Boston at a nearly sold-out venue was obvious. But unless you have been a diehard fan of the band since 2004, the show was too polished to make an impact on the rest of us.
Photo Credit: Carolyn Vallejo