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MUSIC REVIEW

A pre-holiday pop parade with Keane

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / May 23, 2009
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With his choirboy face and infectious grin, Tom Chaplin probably got away with murder as a kid. As the indefatigable leader of Britpop band Keane, Chaplin expertly combines those two assets with a voice spun from pure silk and yearning. If you know the words to a Keane song, as many at the Bank of America Pavilion did Thursday night, resistance to singing along is apparently futile.

Tune after hummable tune - "Everybody's Changing," "This Is the Last Time," "Is it Any Wonder?" - was built on the sturdy back of songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley's rollicking piano lines, drummer Richard Hughes's rock-steady beats, and the hip-moving work of touring bassist Jesse Quinn. The peaks arrived with Chaplin's soaring choruses, which he helped launch with the emphatic pumping of his right hand into the air.

Even when Chaplin was shamelessly pandering to the not-quite-sold-out crowd with concert boilerplate about the virtues of Boston over other US cities, you wanted to believe him.

While songs from 2008's more electronically minded "Perfect Symmetry" were met with less enthusiasm, there was nothing less enjoyable about the jubilant whoops and funkier beats of tunes like "Spiralling" or the stripped-back take of the bittersweet ballad "You Don't See Me."

No doubt the glorious weather aided the jubilant mood of the first show at the Pavilion, the quintessential summer venue, and 90 minutes after the anthemic pop parade had begun, Chaplin's grin was still firmly in place and had spread throughout the crowd.

It's difficult to know whether the fact that Mat Kearney is a dead vocal ringer for Chris Martin of Coldplay is a blessing or a curse. (And considering how far Keane has worked to overcome comparisons with Coldplay, does the band really want to summon that spectre before they go on?) Kearney has a lovely, limber voice capable of warm falsetto runs and sultry low tones. And yet as pleasant as the affable singer-songwriter's polished, melodic "Grey's Anatomy" pop is, it all started to blend together in his 45-minute set.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com.

KEANE

With Mat Kearney and the Helio Sequence

At: Bank of America Pavilion, Thursday

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