REVIEW: Keane @ O2 Academy, May 25th

Words & supporting pic by Cesilia Oriana Trecaquista

Asking what the general consensus was regarding the Mercury prize-winning act, Keane, I met with opinions ranging from indifference to utter disdain.

The latter from those who commonly referred to them as “posh twats”, or some other uncomplimentary reference to their background (Keane hail from Battle, East Sussex; and have never denied their middle-class roots).

I wonder if this acute disdain is based on class, or a genuine dislike for their music? Why is it more acceptable to like acts who have raised their profile ‘against the odds’, coming from so called ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds, as opposed to more affluent. Even if the hard work, motivation and talent is equally evident. I digress…

(Ed – please refer to Haralambos & Holborn, ‘Sociology: Themes & Perspectives’. And Smash Hits)

It’s a pleasant summer’s night in Birmingham, as I make my way to the O2 Academy to see Keane; a band whose debut album – ‘Hopes and Fears’, evokes wonderful memories of a particularly happy period of my life. A time when student finance was always on hand to help me pay my bills, and things like catching the bus were significantly cheaper.

And despite all the negativity I’d encountered towards Keane, they were certainly not short of support. The O2 Academy packed to bursting point; the ‘pleasant summer’s night’ now almost unbearable.

I arrive after a long day at work, surprised to find Keane already on stage; echoes of ‘Silenced by the Night’ play as I walked through the doors. What headline act starts at 8pm on a Friday night, I ask myself??? And I wasn’t the only latecomer.

Lead singer, Tom Chaplin, tells us about his fondness for Birmingham; adding that the previous times he’s played here, he’s found the reception as warm as he does this night.

The audience become even more receptive, and personally, I find him charming and sincere; which is why what happened next made me feel rather wrong.

No longer able to stand sandwiched between die-hard Keane fans, relentlessly singing down my ear hole the lyrics to songs such as ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and ‘Bedshaped’, I retreat to the stairs leading to the toilets; seeking desperate respite for my shell-likes.

Unfortunately due to the layout of the O2 Academy, my view became somewhat impaired; and I spend the most of the gig only able to see Chaplin’s gyrating groin area.

‘Charming’ and ‘sincere’ no longer appropriate adjectives.

However, although often headless and obscured, this vantage point allows me to appreciate Chaplin’s pitch perfect vocals, and Keane’s excellent on stage musicianship.

As their final song finishes, and everyone clambers out the doors; most leave satisfied and happy, others simply desperate for air.

And although standing in a still-light-outside Birmingham City Centre, after having left a gig at 9.20pm on a Friday night, I was encouragingly not alone. Apparently “posh twats” can have a loyal fan base too; albeit a very sweaty one.

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