classic pop act set for arena return

Chris Wasser

Tom Chaplin wants to be a rock star. He certainly dresses like one. From where I'm standing, Keane's baby-faced lead singer and his men could be launching the Topman spring 2013 collection -- a sleek line of casual yet trendy shirts, and painfully skinny jeans. And then there's the way he moves. Indeed, Chaplin likes to punch the air a lot. Christ, there was even a time when the East Sussex lad used to drink like a rock star, too. Legend has it that Pete Doherty used to call him Charlie (yep, Chaplin had more than just a drinking problem).

But what continues to hold poor Tom back from his rock 'n' roll dream is the one thing that makes him such an important piece in the Keane puzzle: his voice. It's good enough for stadiums. But it's a classic pop vocal. In another life, it might even have conquered the X Factor. Piece together Chaplin's ambitious vocal stretches with pianist and chief songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley's knack for gigantic melodies and chart-friendly choruses, and you have yourself a winning pop formula.


Still, it's astonishing when you consider just how many genuine hits this multi-million selling British four-piece have notched up in less than a decade. Because it is far too easy to make fun of Keane. They're too nice. Too ... Coldplay. But a lot of people like Coldplay. And a hell of a lot of people liked Hopes and Fears (Keane's 2004 debut album). Tonight, there's room for all shades of this surprisingly versatile outfit, from the experimental leanings of Perfect Symmetry to the well-received sounds of current album Strangeland.

It doesn't matter what mood they're in -- they'll treat every number with the kind of respect and attention to detail that makes Keane such an enjoyable band to watch. And you can forget about any sort of midweek slump -- Dublin crowds are crazy about the Keane boys. "Keano, Keano," they chant.

Chaplin simply smiles, wipes the sweat from his forehead and tells us about his run around the Phoenix Park. Any other band and you'd roll your eyes in disgust. But the important thing to remember is that Keane have the songs to help them through. Such as the fantastic Sovereign Light Cafe. Or -- an old reliable -- Somewhere Only We Know. Surely, a return to the arenas is inevitable. HHHHI