Too bad we weren't given the chance to ask the same in return.
Keane, widely known as "the band with no guitars," plays fairly soft, sensitive pop. It's pretty or pretty boring depending on where one's taste in music lies. The group might be perfect for those who find, say, Coldplay or Air Supply overly stimulating.
There's little doubt that there's a sizable audience that appreciates the British trio, which also features keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley and drummer Richard Hughes. Keane has sold millions of its two major-label releases, 2004's "Hopes and Fears" and 2006's "Under the Iron Sea," and packed the Berkeley Community Theater to capacity with fans who seemed to know the words to most of its songs.
The group did, however, make the local crowd wait nearly four months. Keane was originally scheduled to play at the U.C. Greek Theatre in Berkeley in early October, but it canceled that date as well as the rest of its fall North American tour when Chaplin checked into a clinic for drug and alcohol problems.
The vocalist seemed in fine form this time through town. Chaplin sounded sharp and he worked the stage with a great deal of enthusiasm. Yet, he still appears to be in the process of finding his own individual style.
Like a person who constantly hears the comment
Coldplay, the band Keane is most often compared to, and his stage persona is a mix of U2's Bono and an "American Idol" runner-up. He also has a definite Rob Thomas thing going on and, as one fan noted, toss some glasses and a scarf on him and he could double for Harry Potter.
More significantly, however, is the fact that the group itself has managed to conjure up a fairly distinct sound.
It was weird to see the three band members take their spots on the stage. Fans conditioned by years of rock concerts couldn't help but think that the stage looked somewhat empty without a guitarist. We kept waiting for a six-stringer to show up and plug in.
In contrast, the music sounded full and rich as Keane opened its set with a New Wave-tinged version of the "Under the Iron Sea" track "Put It Behind You."
Chaplin then scolded the crowd, "If you are sitting on your asses, you should be standing up."
That was an odd piece of advice to give the audience. Keane played a few numbers that somewhat qualified as rock anthems, such as the "Hopes and Fears" number "This is the Last Time," but it mainly stuck to moody, melancholy, mid-tempo tunes that are best enjoyed while seated.
Yet, Chaplin acted like he was fronting AC/DC.
"Please, if you can make more noise, then do so," he said to the audience.
The crowd responded with sizable rounds of applause as Keane continued through such fan favorites as "Everybody's Changing," "Nothing in My Way" and "Hamburg Song."
The crowd erupted when the band latched onto the first album's "Somewhere Only We Know." Still, the vocalist wasn't completely happy with the crowd's effort.
"I thought that was pretty good," he said. "But for the next song, we want you to go even higher."
The deficiency wasn't with the crowd. It just needed somebody that could take it higher.