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Review: Virgin Mega

By Jeff Partain and Kim Taylor

The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA, Friday, June 4, 2004

The dark, wooden innards of West Hollywood's historic Troubadour slowly began to fill as Minibar presented a solid set last Friday night (6/4). The unpretentious four-member band were opening for fellow Brits, Keane, who were beginning a small tour of the US while their debut album, Hopes and Fears, enjoyed keeping Morrissey's new album out of the #1 slot in the British charts.

Ex-pats Minibar, who have resided in Los Angeles since 1999, seemed a perfect fit for the night's bill. Their unassuming appeal, and straight-ahead rock had never sounded better. Harmonies and solid instrumentation marked memorable songs like the lonely new radio single, “Unstoppable,” and old standard, “Fly Below The Radar.” Minibar's music left you with the feeling that no matter how messed up things may get, it will all be okay.

Then the latest Brit buzz band, Keane, came on as a three-piece band which showcases the piano as its lead instrument. Yet, even without a guitarist, Keane hit all the right notes leaving a deep impression on the sold out cheering crowd. Kicking off with the swooning and powerful epic "Can't Stop Now," drummer Richard Hughes and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley created striking volumes with their respective instruments, but it was vocalist Tom Chaplin's melodic vocals that sold the songs.

Since the rise of Coldplay, sensitivity seems to be cliché, but Keane crafts songs of such lyrical depth and striking sentiment that the listener has to take notice. "Somewhere Only We Know" combined endearing lyrics with a rousing, instantly memorably chorus. Most of Keane's songs focus on relationships and the ebb and flow of human communication. Chaplin introduced slow-burner "She Has No Time" as a song that Rice-Oxley wrote while observing Chaplin chasing a woman who did not return his affection (we bet she regrets it now!).

Chaplin used most of the open space on the stage, dancing and leaning into the audience to sing, not unlike Morrissey. If Keane had a guitarist, Chaplin would lose much of his stage space, which would be a bad thing. The singer possesses an engaging personality to match his incredible range and volume. "Everybody's Changing" and "Bend and Break" were two stand-out tracks from the performance, combining a crescendo of drums, keyboards and soaring vocals. Keane's sound was so fully realized it was hard to believe only two instruments plus vocals were at work. At the end of the hour-long set, Keane's confidence and finely-honed tunes were enough to convince that on their next swing through the West Coast larger, sold-out venues would await this band.

From Virgin Maga Magazine
Originally published June 8, 2004
Copyright ©2000-2004 Virgin Entertainment Group, Inc.

Last updated: Oct 01, 2006 - 04:15 PM PDT

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