KEANE + the Zutons @ Metropolis

By Mikey B - The Lonesome Stranger - 02/12/2005

I can specifically remember working on a crisp late summer day in Fairview. It’s those kinds of days where the slightest thing would piss you off… People who know me best know that it takes a lot to piss me off. I can take most physical and verbal abuse and still have a pseudo-smile on my face. This particular day at HMV, however, just killed my spirit. Not because of co-workers, and surprisingly not because of jerk-off customers, but because of the store playlist.

When I had first started working at HMV over two years ago, rules over the playlist were pretty fair. We could play anything we had in the store, provided that there were five copies of it in the store, and there was no extreme profanity… not too shabby. A few months went by, and the rules became slightly stricter. No shorts and no hats allowed, but most importantly, we had no control over what we could listen to in the store. HMV bigwigs would start sending us various compilation CDs: Rap, Pop Rock, Francophone, Adult Contemporary crap… it was all on about four CDs that we listened to NON FUCKING STOP day in and day out. Along with those comps, we also had the choice of playing a cd from a pre-selected group of 20. Most of those CDs would be things like:

  • Les Cowboys Fringants
  • The Killers
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Hilary Duff

On this particular day, I lost it. And I lost it when I heard what I thought was a Travis song. It was Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know“ and not only did it sound like a Travis song, it sounded like an OLD Travis song! I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I figured these guys basically ripped off a melody from Travis’ 1999 album, The Man Who. Which song though !?!? Goddamn it, I’m listening to the album right now and I still can’t figure it out, so why did this piss me off? I don’t know. You tend to lose it at the worst, most unexplainable time. Like when an old lady asks for directions to the nearest pay phone or when your neighbor’s daughter knocks at your door cause she’s selling BATTERIES for smoke detectors so she can raise money for Girl Guides. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THOSE SHITTY FUCKING COOKIES !?!?!

What’s really unusual about this all, is that I actually really do enjoy Keane’s music. Although my first encounter with them was overly hostile, I’ve managed to get past it. My second encounter with them was when the lovely Miss Ginger offered me six tickets to see the show. This was back when I had only heard that one song, and I referred to them as “the band that sounds like Travis”. Super sweet! There’s nothing more awesome than being able to treat your friends to see a live show, at least that’s the way I see things. I love spending a Saturday night in Montreal at the Metropolis hangin’ out with a bunch of music geeks. Holy shit, there was a LOT of them!

Accompanying me to the show was Pointe Claire’s own hardcore drunk rocker Kevin, decked out in his Slayer T-shirt. We then met up with our sexy friend Amelie, who was most definetly turning some heads that night due to her high hotness factor. Kevin and I gauged our arrival time pretty well, since we caught most of the second opening band called The Zutons. These guys were from Liverpool and put on a reasonably good show. It’s tough to classify them under, well, any genre. There were songs that had a great stripped-down indie sound, mixed in with some funkyness and a little bit of ska upstrokes (which worked… sometimes), and heck, there was even a song that would’ve been perfect as the theme to a game show! These guys were pretty good, and I can see that musically, they have yet to find a particular style that fits them comfortably, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… they’re young.

Right after the Zutons set, people flooded the floor to get ready to see Keane. It was pretty weird, having been used to going to see punk bands. You can usually just make it to the front of the stage whenever you want by just pushing through people. Well, I didn’t plan on doing that tonight. WAY TOO MANY BIG TOUGH GUYS that you’d expect to be hangin’ out at The Dôme picking up 17-year-olds. I swear, I must’ve smelled 20 different colognes in the same night! It was, for the most part, a very GQ crowd. I’m guessing the last show most of these people saw was Sting a couple months back…. yeccchh !

So is Keane the new “In” band for the thirtysomethings ? Well, the fourtysomethings have Michael Buble and Josh Groban and all senile old fogies seem to love that Daniel O’Donnell guy (I mean, no wonder… he has a PBS special just about every goddamn week!). Keane is catering well to a wide array of demographics, but I see them having more of an impact with the late 20’s, early 30’s music fans.

All demographics and comparisons aside, Keane’s performance was one that made the night just that much brighter. In the past few years, we’ve been exposed to minimalistic bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys and Death From Above 1979, two-pieces that come out with a sound that defies all logic. Keane manage to do just the same with three members: one pianist, one overly eccentric drummer and one babyfaced vocalist. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to their album or if you were at the show with a blindfold on.

Usually, the live performance (for me) is what makes or breaks my total impression of a band. I saw The Vines play this year and they were by far the worst live performance I’ve ever seen. Keane was one of the most comforting live shows I’ve seen in the last 12 months. Aside from being cast as Coldplay/Radiohead wannabees, these guys provide the perfect soundtrack to a makeout session or an episode of The O.C. Songs like “We Might As Well Be Strangers” and “Everybody’s Changing” were two of the hard hitters while “Somewhere Only We Know” provided the only real sing-along of the night. When they played their song “Your Eyes Open”, I could’ve sworn that they borrowed their entire piano melody from Radiohead’s 2004 single “There There”. Give ’em both a listen and tell me I’m not crazy.

Now only having one CD under their belt, most of the set list was pretty much predictable, aside from some new song that sent the crowd into hysteria. I can recall some girls yelling out, “we want to have your babies, Tom!”. That’s something that’s always hilarious to hear. Hey, remember what used to be hilarious? Yelling out “Freebird”. Nowadays, I swear, the next jock idiot that yells out “Freebird” during a show is gonna get a face full of knuckles and a crotch full of converse. Anyway, it was during their song “Bedshaped” that the Metropolis became eerily quiet; you could’ve heard people blinking! All eyes focused squarely on Tom Choplin as he swayed back ‘n forth. Now, lucky for me, Amelie happened to know the owner of the Metropolis, and he led us backstage to watch most of Keane’s performance. In fact, we got to sit up in that VIP balcony. It was at that particular moment that I turned to Amelie and said “here come the cell phones…”. And there I was, looking down on a virtual sea of neon blue and green lights being waved in the air by a buncha yuppies. I was tempted to throw pennies from the balcony, but decided not to ruin this moment of glowing tranquility. I know smoking is unpopular, but can’t we have lighters at shows instead? If it means taking up smoking, I’m all up for it.

I enjoyed the last few songs of the night by the bar in the back of the venue. Talked to a few record company reps which happened to be at the show, jazzed it up with my friends Meg & Mel and then got a lift home with my friend Dave. No partying for me, I was working at 8am, jacking up the cost of CDs and whatnot. I hate Sundays. Still, that day I ended up buying the Keane CD and it’s well worth it.

[Mikey co-hosts The Lonesome Stranger on CJLO with Spanky G every Tuesday noon-2pm]