LIVE REVIEW: Keane, Fran Healy, & Ingrid Michaelson @ the Fox Theater 7/20/2010
On July 20th, Keane kicked off their US tour at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Accompanying them on the road are Fran Healy and Ingrid Michaelson. I must say, the opening acts left me feeling much more impressed than Keane did.
You may know Fran Healy as the lead singer of the band Travis. This tour with Keane marks the first time Healy has taken his solo material on the road. Though he is not touring with any backing band, he played a beautiful acoustic set that released a very soulful and mystifying ambiance over the Fox. The first song he played was “20,” a classic favorite amongst Travis fans, as it is the first song Healy ever wrote. He went back & forth from Travis songs and new material such as “As It Comes,” “In the Morning,” and “Buttercups,” which will be his first single. He engaged the audience with a lot of interesting stories and background information on his new songs. At one point, he even played a song called “Anything” for the very first time in front of a crowd. Though there were a few bumps in the song, which he would pause and apologize for, everyone watching his set kept cheering him on. He described his new material as “a little chicken that’s just come out of an egg” – still wobbly and trying to gain its balance. Even with the tiny mess up’s in a few songs, it’s obvious that as the tour continues and Healy is able to play these songs more and more, his set is going to be near perfect. He knows how to balance Travis with his own material and keep the crowd completely infatuated with his performance.
After Healy went off stage, Ingrid Michaelson arrived front and center. I don’t know much of her music, but she won over every single person at The Fox that night. Fan or not, there was no denying that this girl “cutesified” the entire place and could have made the entire show her own. She acknowledged the fact the she has “only one, big hit,” “Way I Am,” and played it up to her full potential. She started off the song by saying “we play this song a lot, so we decided to change it up a little.” Thinking that it was going to be a more stripped down version or something along those lines, everyone was surprised when she launched into a version of “Ice, Ice Baby” that meshed right into her own rendition of “The Fresh Prince of Bellaire” theme song.Â Not only did that make everyone laugh, but some of the stories she told and how open she was with fixing her cleavage in the middle of her set had everyone turning to their neighbor to comment on how funny she is. She did a few more cover songs including “Creep” by Radiohead and ending the night with “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Though her band mostly consists of guitars and keyboards, the ending to “Toxic” had everyone in the band doing synchronized choreography until they lifted Michelson up in the air and the lights went out.
Keane eventually took the stage, and I must say, the opening to them actually coming on stage was pretty cool; a lot of smoke, awesome lighting, dramatic music- very theatrical and really built the moment nicely. The first thing front-man, Tom Chaplin, said when he took stage was “just sing your fucking asses off.” I give him credit, because that was really badass, however, that was pretty much the highlight of the show for me. I should probably add that I am not a huge Keane fan; I don’t dislike them, there are a few songs I enjoy, but by no means am I a massive admirer of their music.Â They alternated between electric and acoustic sets, playing all of their hits such as “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing.” Chaplin had four different boxes placed around the stage which he would stand atop in a Jesus-like pose and sing his little heart out. It became a little comical after awhile, along with all of his mannerisms which sort of reminded me of Link Larkin (Zac Efron) from the play/movie “Hairspray.” If you were to make a drinking game out of how many times Chaplin points at the crowd like a member of N’Sync, you’d be drunk in less than three seconds.
Musically, they were not bad; they’re all great musicians. If I were a huge fan, I think this show would have been pretty epic, but I can’t get past Chaplin’s stage presence. It was too much; so much in fact, I couldn’t take the guy seriously. However, one of the cool things about the Fox Theater is the way shadows are cast on the sides of the wall. It’s like watching the silhouettes of an iPod commercial- and with Chaplin’s silly poses and overly done leg bends, the gigantic shadows looked really awesome. Another note about the lights: if you have epilepsy, don’t go to a Keane show. Sometimes it was hard to see what the band was doing because there were too many blinking and rotating lights. A big light show is cool and all if you’re at Disneyland, just not when you’re in a smaller music venue. All in all, I give Keane’s portion of the show 3 out of 5 starsâ€¦though, I gave that third star for comedic relief. Sorry guys, maybe next time.