Review: Keane back at High Lodge for triumphant Forest Live gig
Like most, I discovered Keane back in the noughties when they released their 2004 smash hit album Hopes and Fears.
It was the days before smartphones and music streaming. I was living in Marham and commuting daily to Bury St Edmunds.
My little Vauxhall Corsa was high-tech enough to have its own CD player. Buying music was still a bit of an investment (but something I spent my wages on) and I was in the habit of popping new CDs on in my car and, if I liked them, there they would stay playing on loop for months at a time.
Hopes and Fears was one of those. Each of its tracks spoke to me at that time in my life and it was good for belting out at the top of my voice.
Months later Keane was replaced by the Chemical Brothers, life and technology moved on and, until Wednesday, I hadn't really listened to Keane since.
But sitting in my kitchen revisiting Hopes and Fears via Spotify (and catching up on an extensive back catalogue) I was excited to see the band perform at High Lodge on Friday.
High Lodge is always a magical music venue, with a friendly atmosphere as dusk falls and music fills the forest.
But Friday night seemed sprinkled with a little more magic dust than usual. For a start, Brandon had just basked in baking hot daytime temperatures which lingered into the evening – there was no need for a cardigan this year.
Added to that was a sense of relief and jubilation the Forestry England's Forest Live concert series was back at Thetford Forest following a pandemic-related hiatus.
A tyre blowout on the A14 meant we arrived in the forest clearing just as support act Flyte were concluding their tuneful set of folk with Cathy Come Home, a song inspired by the 1966 Ken Loach television play.
And when Keane took to the stage just after 9pm there was an almighty cheer and a surge of good feeling that the band was finally playing a gig originally planned for the postponed 2021 Forest Live series.
Frontman Tom Chaplin, on greeting the crowd, said: "At least we got the one warm night of the year to be here. Just enjoy yourselves everybody."
And that was all the green light anyone needed to let off steam.
The tight band launched into a set including Disconnected and Silenced by the Night from 2012's album Strangeland; Nothing in my Way, from Hopes and Fears (2005); Love Too Much and The Way I Feel (Cause and Effect, 2019).
Tom said: "It’s been a funny tour for us as we work at weekends and then go back to our home lives mopping up after small children.
"But it’s lovely to be back out playing music."
Then it was time for Bend and Break from 2005 smash-hit album Hopes and Fears, which drew rousing cheers and prompted many to get their smartphones out for pictures and videos.
Even huger cheers greeted Everybody's Changing, while the phone torches (instead of the lighters we would have used in the past) were out for My Shadow.
Meanwhile, my dancing feet came out to play for Spiralling, and by the time the band played crowd-pleasing favourites This is the Last Time and Somewhere Only We Know, the crowd was well and truly along for the ride (and reluctant for the show to end).
"This has been so much fun, thank you," said Tom as the band left the stage at the end of the set.
Cheers and and calls for more drew the band back for a triumphant three-song encore including Neon River and Sovereign Light Café, before one of the best Forest Live gigs I have seen was at an end.
Afterwards, I was left with a niggling guilty feeling – I had forgotten about Keane, but this performance has put the band firmly back on my radar.
Their slick and impressive performance and stellar vocals convinced me the band is hugely underrated – it is definitely time for me to visit that back catalogue.
And when frontman Tom Chaplin had said 'we hope it won’t be 12 years before we are back in Thetford again' before leaving the stage, I could not agree more.
Top tips for anyone going to see Madness at High Lodge tonight:
- Take cash – the bar’s card terminals were working but many food outlets were cash only due to signal problems, while those taking cards were struggling.
- Prepare for dusty feet.
- Also prepare for a wait getting out of the car park. I wished I was like Paddington and had a marmalade sandwich hidden about my person when I had the midnight munchies during the journey back to Bury.