3 March 2007


Years ago, music was close to the top of my personal agenda. Seeing live music and singing for a semi-pro East Yorkshire band, playing vinyl LPs till they were worn out, avidly reading "Melody Maker" and "New Musical Express" - it all seemed so important. As if this is where I would find the essence of life. I can see it in my own son too - every opportunity he's watching bands. Last year, he even flew to the Roskilde Festival in Denmark and this year he's planning on Glastonbury if he can secure a ticket.
Although I still make up songs on my guitar, music doesn't mean so much to me any more. I'd often rather listen to a good discussion on Radio 4 than some popular chart pap. So it's now most uncommon for me to buy tickets for any concert but before Christmas, on a whim I bought two tickets for last night's show at the cavernous Sheffield Arena. The stars of the show were that tuneful three man outfit from Sussex - Keane, fronted by their most unlikely looking but incredibly gifted lead singer - Tom Chaplin.

I have often wondered how the band got their name so before tapping out this blogpost I undertook a little research - "Keane named themselves after a little old lady called Cherry Keane who lived next door to the Chaplins. Tom laughs off the assumption in some press that she was his nanny. "That's just a classic stereotype: the posh boy's nanny! She was a friend who used to look after us and occasionally helped at the school. She was an inspirational person. I'd tell her that I wanted to be a singer and she'd say, 'Go for it,' whereas my Mum and Dad told me 'That's stupid'. Cherry had a sense of humour and fun. She also had no children of her own, so she had a lot of 'adopted' children, in a sense."When Cherry Keane died, she left her modest Bexhill house to Tom and his two siblings. "I used some of the money to see me through the harder times with the music," he says, "so in an indirect way she was there to save the day." The band initially named themselves Cherry Keane, until they realised, as Tom puts it, "that people were associating it with the deflowering of virgins".

So how were the lads at Sheffield Arena? To tell you the truth, they were A1 f-ing brilliant! Considering it's just three guys, they make such a big sound. The concert was nicely varied with a semi-acoustic section performed at the end of a walkway that extended from the stage into the crowd and there was also an imaginatively utilised and slatted rear video screen that showed the guys doing their stuff. They were on stage for nearly ninety minutes.

Tom Chaplin was amazing. To possess a voice like that and to hear it amplified in a hall that holds nine thousand people! There was not one bum note, just a plaintive voice soaring up and down, somehow tuning in to the fears and the aspirations of our world, connecting with those who want to sing away their pain and their joy but do not have the vocal chords to do it. Wow! Keane!


  1. Ah yes, NME. And did you listen to Radio Luxemburg too? And the Top Ten on a Sunday afternoon? I could go on...

  2. Don't suppose you had a photo of Elvis taped to the inside of your school desk though, did you?

  3. I remember when NME left newsprint all over your fingers...

  4. JENNYTA Radio Luxembourg? Never heard of it! Elvis? Who's he? You must remember that I'm nearly young enough to be your son!
    MUTTERINGS - I was only kidding with Jennyta - yes I do remember that cheap newsprint. As a paper boy I had to deliver some of those suckers every Friday. I ended up looking like a coal miner at the age of thirteen.

  5. Hello. Just visited your blog. Like it.
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    PS: I love Yorkshire pudding and mushy peas and I am not British and yes I listened to Radio Luxemburg too.

  6. I looked like a coal miner at 13 too, because I was one. Nothing like a great gig to get the endorphines or whatever it is that makes one's troubles go a way for a bit flowing, especially if it's really loud and you can listen wthout your hearing aid. play that funky music white boy, as they say in Richmond..

  7. I saw a GREAT gig two weeks ago at Manchester Academy 2 - the Student's Union no less - and I wasn't the oldest in there.

    Seth Lakeman. Absolutely brilliant. An Xmas pressie off Youngest and Mrs Youngest. (Who have seen him three times before and insisted on coming along "to make sure we were alright")

    We were alright. Student's Union bar prices in the centre of Manchester? Get in!


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