Thetford Forest June 17, 2022
by Adam Aiken
Nearly two decades ago, ahead of an early Keane show in Norwich, the picture editor at the local newspaper was asked if he could send a photographer along to get some snaps of this new band who were starting to make some waves.
“I haven’t heard of them, and I don’t have anyone free,” was the curt reply. And so photos of the young Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes from that night don’t exist in the local archives.
There’s no such pictorial problem tonight, though, with hundreds of smartphones trained on the stage throughout the show. And when old-school Chaplin asks us to raise our “lighters”, a sea of phone torches illuminates Thetford Forest.
This moment comes during one of several ballads that intersperse the set. Keane have always had these gentler moments in their repertoire, but if there’s one minor criticism tonight it’s that the brakes are too often slammed on just when we’re getting going.
That said, it’s the hottest day of 2022 so far – the highest temperature of the year was recorded earlier in the day about two miles from here – so taking the occasional breather is understandable.
The trio from those early days is now a quartet, with Jesse Quin having signed up a few years ago. A Suffolk boy, it’s something of a homecoming gig for him – as it is for Chaplin, whose family hails from just over the border in Norfolk.
The mix for the first few songs isn’t ideal, with Quin’s bass dominating Rice-Oxley’s keyboards, but once that niggle is ironed out his presence gives the band a fuller, more rounded feel.
We get a handful of tunes from Cause And Effect, which was the record released just a few months before the first lockdown, and they mostly slip seamlessly into the set. The one exception is perhaps Strange Room, which doesn’t reach the heights of more established ballads such as Try Again and She Has No Time.
But it’s another Cause And Effect song that proves to be one of the evening’s highlights. Love Too Much has an almost funky vibe and is one of those tunes where it’s impossible to stand still while listening.
Another early peak with its satisfying harmonies is Nothing In My Way, while Chaplin shines in You Are Young and She Has No Time.
We’re all two decades older than we were at that early Waterfront show, and this middle-aged version of Keane is the perfect act for the occasion. There seem to be more G&Ts than beers being consumed, many of the crowd spend much of the evening in comfy chairs, and by the end of the night trying to avoid tripping over Waitrose bags has become something of an art form.
As we gallop towards the end of the main set, Bedshaped, This Is The Last Time and Somewhere Only We Know serve only to highlight what a great first album Hopes And Fears was.
And with Crystal Ball and Sovereign Light Café in their arsenal for the encore, it’s the perfect end to a sweltering day.
Even the parking – which was apparently a bit shambolic last night during the first of a run of three Forest Live shows – goes fairly smoothly. And when the parking passes muster, those of a certain age are almost guaranteed to go home happy.