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Tom Chaplin

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 25th May, 2017

Written By Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by Andy Gunton

A sort of homecoming.

You can’t get a great deal closer to a home town gig for Tom Chaplin than this, and there were many times during this very enjoyable evening when that was very evident.

As the man himself said, he recognised several familiar faces in the crowd, which gave this gig an intimate feel.

The fact that this was also the last show of his UK tour added an extra ingredient. Not that this show was ever going to be anything other than a success.

Kicking off his 90 minute set with ‘Still Waiting’ and ‘Hardened Heart’, from the debut solo album ‘The Wave’, the band and the audience were quickly into their stride, where they remained for the whole evening.

The first Keane song of the set, ‘Bend and Break’ was up next, a song I can remember seeing Keane play in front of around 50 people at the Underground Theatre in Eastbourne, just before the bands breakthrough hit ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ was released. 

That all seems a very long time ago now, and as we all know Tom Chaplin has faced several demons during those intervening years.

Those demons were a constant theme to the evening, not least because Tom himself was very open about those bad times and spoke at length about his previous problems, how he managed to come out the other side in one piece, and how all of that had influenced the solo songs played here tonight.

Tom was in fine voice tonight, quite possibly singing better than ever, which was very pleasing to hear and see.

Another point to add was that, in my opinion, his solo material sounded far better live than it does on record.

There seemed to be more power and energy to the songs, maybe the setting and occasion helped with this?

As expected the setlist for the evening mixed the solo album tracks with a fair sprinkling of Keane classics, and a few slightly lesser well known Keane tracks as well.

A question for many in the sold out crowd beforehand was probably “how will the Keane songs sound without the backing of Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes?”.

Well, naturally they sounded a little different, but the extra instruments provided by Tom’s excellent band gave them a new impetus.

His four piece band often changed instruments, using violins, extra keyboards, guitar and bass to update that original Keane sound (I know Keane added a bass player in later years, but...).

Three of those band members also provided backing vocals, adding further to the sound.

It was two of those old Keane classics that provided the highpoints of the evening. 

Firstly ‘Sovereign Light Cafe’, with its name checks for many local landmarks, had the crowd singing along at the top of their voices.

And then ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, that first big hit single, had the same effect, both songs getting an extended ovation from the crowd which seemed to go on for ages, much to Tom’s delight.

Those two tracks were separated by the first of two cover versions played on the night, a very well executed, stripped down, cover of the U2 song ‘One’.

The other, ‘Blowing In The Wind’, was introduced by Tom referencing the recent terror attack at the Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, something close to the hearts and minds of all those present on the night.

It was obvious from Tom Chaplin words, emotions and actions that he didn’t want this evening, and the tour, to end, but after the main set closer ‘Crystal Ball, and a five song encore we all had to bow to the inevitable.

As a ‘homecoming’ gig this was a great success. I hope those who attended the previous nights gig at the De La Warr Pavilion had as much fun as we did.

Music certainly triumphed tonight, long may it continue to do so.

Find Tom Chaplin at: tomchaplinmusic

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