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The Ross Who Knew Too Much

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More wimp rock: Keane + Coldplay

Back in February when I saw Keane play a sold-out show at the Quest, I was taken aback at the sheer number of people in the audience who were extremely passionate about the band's songs, and not just the big single "Somewhere Only We Know."

Still, I approached the Keane's follow-up gig Tuesday night at the much-larger Northrop Auditorium wondering not only if the band had enough fans to fill the venue, but whether that passion would translate on a larger scale.

As it turns out, the show wasn't sold out -- but the main floor was pretty close. Yet, indeed, the crowd ate up every minute of it, screaming in ecstasy to every last bit of soft-rock glory. Despite the minimalism of the band's setup -- vocalist Tom Chaplin, pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, drummer Richard Hughes and no guitarist -- Keane performed with stadium-shaking confidence and a (small) catalog of songs that sounds better and better with each spin.

To wit, "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Everybody's Changing" are already proven hits that sounded magnificent (and even though I've heard the former about 10,000 times now, it still sends shivers down my spine). But "This Is the Last Time" and "Bend and Break" now sound every bit as tasty. And the emotionally charged "We Might as Well Be Strangers" really should be Keane's next U.S. single -- it's an epic weeper that stands on par with anything the band's clear influence Coldplay has released to this point.

Given that Keane only has one album out, last year's "Hopes and Fears," they repeated most of the set list from the February Quest show. The staging was predictably bigger, with lots of lights and occasionally some rear-projected films (including a killer illustrated bit to go along with the aforementioned "We Might as Well Be Strangers").

The band did play three new songs (the first two of which they also performed in February): "Nothing in Your Way," "Hamburg Song" and "Try Again." All three are every bit as majestic as Keane's previous work and will surely figure on the band's sophomore album, which is currently scheduled for spring 2006.

There's nothing remotely edgy -- or really all that original -- about what Keane is doing. Yet it's nearly impossible not to fall for them.

Speaking of Coldplay (as I was a few paragraphs back), they're coming to the Target Center Sept. 20. Tickets will go on sale June 4, three days before the band's new album "X&Y" hits stores.

Does this make the fall the new summer as far as monster tours go? Check out the lineup of blockbuster shows that are coming to town after those big three months we like to consider summer:
-- Neil Diamond (Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Target Center)
-- the Rolling Stones (Sept. 6, Xcel Energy Center)
-- Green Day (Sept. 16, Xcel Energy Center)
-- U2 (Sept. 23, Target Center)
-- Paul McCartney (Oct. 26, Xcel Energy Center)

One more bit of Coldplay news. The band will be the musical guests on the season finale of "Saturday Night Live" on May 21, when they'll reportedly be playing five (as opposed to the standard two) songs.


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