Keane Strangeland: Live in Manila — How a simple fan became a superfan

When I first heard that Keane was visiting Manila, I had getting tickets to their concert part of my immediate bucket list. I discovered the band way back in the fifth season of American Idol when Blake Lewis sang Somewhere Only We Know in one of his performances and liked the song right away. While I became an instant fan of the band, I still wouldn’t consider myself hard core as I was not always updated on their new releases and new music.

When we got found a great deal on the tickets a week before the event, it was like a sign from fate, and going to the concert became a must. My friend Mae and I, while we had a difficult time explaining who the band was to our friends (we had to sing Somewhere Only We Know and our lack of musicality did not help in familiarizing them with the band)  were totally excited and even had to go on half day at the office to have time to pick up the tickets (we got vouchers from an online deal site) and rush to the concert venue. We had to watch our time because I had to run a last minute errand and buy batteries because I forgot to bring the rechargables for my camera, which was totally idiotic of me. Last I remembered from my experience with the NKOTBSB concert at the Mall of Asia Arena, the lines were long already three hours before the show, so we made sure to arrive two hours before. We managed to sneak in an early dinner first, of course.

MAKING NEW FRIENDS. Mae and I with 5 year old superfan Tarko.

When the gates opened at 6 pm, we were the first in line to enter the venue and fall in line. It was a long wait but we managed to make new friends — writer Ms. Lorella, her mom and her super Keane fan Tarko, a five year old cutie who knew each Keane song by heart, and also Ms. Betsie, a BPO supervisor who came with her daughter (also a superfan) who won a Meet and Greet with the band prior to the concert. Anyways, the wait was a bit long (almost two hours) but in the end, we got pretty good seats really close to the stage (long story) thanks to ushers Christian Martesano, Jayson Aberin and Jom Lansang who were very accomodating in helping us find our way.

The concert started a bit before 9 so by this time, we have been at the venue for 3 hours. So when Tom (vocals), Tim (piano), Richard (drums) and Jesse (guitar), hit the stage and opened with You Are Young, everybody rose up and crowded to the center, raised their hands (and cameras) in the air and gave themselves to the music.

While Mae and I were not that familiar with all of the songs, I must admit that we enjoyed every single one of them for the simple reason that the performance was so good. The vocals were so clean that one would think that one was listening to a record the way Tom belted out their original songs. And Tom was not the only one who came to Manila to perform. The rest of the band was so awesome and performed each song seamleslly transitioning from song to song with no effort at all. What’s best about the band (all of them) is that when they perform, they totally feel the song and use their entire bodies to communicate the message of their music, a message well received by the fans which they respond to quite eagerly. There were points that Tim was rising up and using one hand to play the piano while he danced and Richard took out his camera to take a picture of us, the crowd.

The stage was quite simple, and the lighting was also subtle, but each lighting transition complemented each song — a statement to the crowd that yes, you’re in a concert. And yes, this is Keane. All in all, they performed a total of 26 songs in two hours and made sure that Manila will remember them not as just one of the many foreign acts who came this year, but a giver of outstanding performances that is consistent whether they are in Britain, the US or Asia.

photo courtesy of Manila Concert Scene Official Facebook fan page)

The only subpar part of the concert was perhaps the videos being projected on the giant screens flanking both sides of the stage. The videos are important for the people who are sitting farther from the stage so that they can see what’s happening even if they can’t see the actual artists in close up. I think for this aspect, the production was not up to snuff because of the blurred focus and the general lack of filtering for the video, making the projections appear amateurish.

In total, I think that producer DAYLY Entertainment and Trilogy Live did great job in bringing acts like Keane to Manila, an opportunity not wasted on the type of fans who arrived at the venue. There might not have been a packed house last night but the enthusiasm and devotion of the fans who came to see the band, I’m sure made an impression on them, so much for them to say that they want to come back again. And we would welcome them back too. I proudly declare that after last night, I have upgraded byself to superfan status. Witnessing Keane in concert was an outstanding experience that I would not soon forget.