Live things: Keane Strangeland Tour in Manila

Keane perform at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila as part of their Strangeland Tour.

First, words from a man who’s been a fan of the band for almost a decade: watching Keane live was a spiritual experience of sorts. I blame it on the band semi-single-handedly starting my slight obsession towards music.

That said, I was a bit wary about their concert last night at the Mall of Asia Arena. Can they fill the place? Not quite. Will their new tracks – still not that much of a fan of Strangeland – go well with the crowd, which were mostly fans and foreigners? Turns out, it did. I don’t know, maybe I’m not as big a fan as I thought.

The two-hour set suggest that the band had a lot of energy to shake off. It was tight, very tight: they managed to squeeze a lot in, although the downside is, Tom Chaplin didn’t address the crowd that much. (I don’t see it as a bad thing but I wouldn’t mind seeing the band interact more, though: the closest I saw was him referring to pianist Tim Rice-Oxley before they performed “Try Again”.) It helps that the crowd was very enthusiastic, and it felt like it just gave Tom that extra push to go. He mostly did fist pumps, but I don’t mind. He seemed to have a ball.

That manic energy thankfully gave the gig a surprisingly rocky vibe. We were partying to ballads! Or maybe it’s the band’s intensity, which comes across very well. (Or it’s the bass that reaches the floor of the MOA Arena. The sound needs a bit of a look-in, though: Tim was nowhere to be heard in the last bits of “Nothing In My Way”.) The wonderful lighting reminds me that it’s a concert I’m attending, though.

The gig, ultimately, was more of a catch-up session between Filipino (and foreign) fans and the band, first-timers to the Philippines and genuinely amazed at the reception. Hell, I myself was surprised that there were so many people singing along with me. Shared experience? You can say that, yes.

Set list “You Are Young” / “Bend and Break” / “Day Will Come” / “Nothing in My Way” / “Spiralling” / “We Might As Well Be Strangers” / “The Lovers Are Losing” / “Silenced By The Night” / “Everybody’s Changing” / “Stop for A Minute” / “The Starting Line” / “Your Eyes Open” / “Try Again” / “Atlantic” / “Strangeland” / “On the Road” / “A Bad Dream” / “Snowed Under” / “Disconnected” / “This Is The Last Time” / “Somewhere Only We Know” / “Is It Any Wonder?” / “Bedshaped” / Encore “Sea Fog” / “Sovereign Light Cafe” / “Crystal Ball”

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