Radio City Music Hall, NYC
January 31, 2013

01- You Are Young
02- Bend and Break
03- On the Road
04- We Might as Well Be Strangers
05- Nothing in My Way
06- Silenced by the Night
07- Everybody's Changing
08- She Has No Time
09- Neon River
10- Spiralling
11- A Bad Dream
12- Hamburg Song
13- My Shadow
14- Disconnected
15- Is It Any Wonder?
16- This Is the Last Time
17- Somewhere Only We Know
18- Bedshaped


19- Sea Fog
20- Sovereign Light Cafe
21- Crystal Ball

Lineage: Stealth recorded and minimally produced by mrsaureus, sitting center floor seventy-five feet back from the stage. Core-Sound High End Binaurals (DPA-4060 capsules) to Sony PCM-M10 (48 kHZ, 24 bit), WavePad Sound Editor to provide modest global amplification, cut into songs and Traders Little Helper to convert to 24 bit/ 48 kHz FLACs. The 16 bit/44.1 kHz version is already shared as This is an audience recording that aims to document the experience of being in the crowd at the show, and features occasionally loud but appropriate crowd noise. This is the first time this recording is being shared.

I only make it to Radio City about once a year, and thatís a shame, because it is one of the truly great venues in NYC. In sharp contrast to spiky, kinetic, martial extravagance of the Beacon, Radio City is full of smooth curves and soothing arcs, anchored down front by the enormous, velvety arc of the stage curtain, itself gathered in smaller arcs, with the curves echoing down the baffled barrel vault over a football field of orchestra seating to the three tight high tiers of balcony at the rear. Itís a vast but extremely well curated space, and being in it never fails to raise my sense of well being. And, of course, every theater is a small theater if you sit down front.

Lately it seems like I mainly get there to see bands popular in the UK but less well-known in the US (my last time there was for Pulp, and I should post that.) Of about 20 friends of mine who have lived their whole lives in the US, exactly none of them had ever heard of Keane. Just to calibrate, all were familiar with Coldplay, most knew at least one song by Oasis, but a only couple could be made to summon up Robbie Williams, and that only after being prompted with some of the lyrics from ďAngels.Ē So thatís where we are. Hereís the thing about the NYC metro area, though: itís got numbers on its side. We may not be as musically sophisticated per capita, as say, Austin, TX, but there are 22,000,000 of us. So if just 0.025% of us are familiar with and fond of Keane, then we can fill the 6000 seat Radio City Music Hall with adoring fans, and on Thursday night, thatís just what we did. (At that same rate, Austin couldnít host a proper AA meeting.)

And what a group of 6000 it was. I believe it was the best looking audience I have ever seen. Practically everybody around me looked liked an actor. It was like the crowd had been cast rather than self-selected to see a band nobody has heard of. They also, to a person, had the subtle earmarks of high-end prosperity. Now there arenít very many cities outside of LA where the really pretty people and the really rich people are significantly the same group (bankers mostly look like bankers), and Iím not sure where all these people came from, but itís a dream demographic. If youíre only going to have a few fans in the US, Keane, my boys, you have got the right ones, no mistake.

For their part, Keane sounded terrific and kept the beautiful crowd very engaged. While they lacks Coldplayís elemental weirdness and miss Chris Martinís spastic eccentricity, they can fill out a billowing ďwhoa-oh-ohĒ chorus and conjure up a passable Beatles imitation (ďDisconnectedĒ) with the best of the pretty-music-for-pretty people-bands. They could easily have a very big fanbase in the US, and the fact that they donít would seem to be a preposterous marketing failure.

Another great thing about being a habitual NYC concert goer is that you very often get to see the first or the last show of a tour (sometimes both), and these are statistically likely to have some extra element of interest. In this case we got the final show of the Strangeland tour. Lead singer Tom Chaplin made a certain amount of valedictory noise, but we didnít get an augmented set list nor even any tearful confessions. Nobody was excessively drunk, there was no bad behavior, and nothing was smashed. Oh well. While there was no mistaking it for the last show of a Deer Tick tour, it still carried that halo of job-well-done-and-now-weíll-relax-a-bit, which rubbed off onto the crowd and kept spirits high.

Openers Youngblood Hawke played a very professional, highly produced opening set that manifested the clear commitment of the money people. They were slick in ways that used to be considered a bad thing, think Journey, but I think thatís all been forgotten now. They were also one of the most confident and least needy openers Iíve seen in a while, often storming through song breaks without waiting for applause, taking the crowd pretty much for granted, and generally getting the bidness done. Lots of bands put out a common drum in the center these days for anyone not otherwise engaged to gleefully pound, but YH is the first band Iíve seen where every member had a rudimentary drum set of his own. The show opened and closed with everybody beating out a jungle tattoo, which really got the attention of the audience. Rhapsody has them classified as ďalt punkĒ (!), but I think Foster the Punk might be more like it, if you leave out the part about them having anything to do with punk. But here I am again sounding like I didnít enjoy it, and that is not the case. Their show was frenetic, high energy, skillfully executed, and very easy to appreciate with little or no prelistening or prep. Sometimes (ďGlacierĒ) they reminded me a little of one of my favorite bands, namely NJís own River City Extension. YH certainly shows promise, but I donít know if their current production plays to their strengths. Tom Chaplin predicted, in the bit where he thanked everybody, that YH is getting ready to blow up big. Maybe. But the truth is, if anybody should blow up big (in the US that is), it should be Keane.