Curate A Night For War Child (DVD)


Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2008

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


I’m still trying to warm up to Keane’s latest disc, Perfect Symmetry, which sees the British threesome foraying into synthed-up ‘80s pop and lukewarm ballads in an attempt to put a Viva La Vida-like spin on their now-signature sound. At least there’s this DVD to tide me over while I wait for the thaw.

Keane Curate A Night For War Child is a relatively no-frills, hour-long set filmed last fall at the Brixton Academy in London. It features a little bit of everything in easily digested two song offerings from each artist, with a culminating performance from headliners Keane. Since its founding in 1993, War Child has established a close relationship with international musicians. In 2005, they launched Help!: A Day In The Life, a compilation featuring contributions from Radiohead, Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs, and numerous other British and Canadian bigshots (including Keane collaborating with Faultline on a lovely, crystal-clear cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”).

The set starts off fairly slow and relaxed with opener Teddy Thompson, who flavors his swaying, country-hued songs with lush backing strings that complement his deep, competent vocals. Next up, Findlay Brown keeps things pretty muted with the downbeat, warm blues of “Nobody Cared,” though his second cut “Don’t You Know” is tighter and funkier, featuring an excellent full group jam that brings the song to its energetic close.

Next up, Keane appear with Brendon Benson (most recently of Raconteurs fame) on “Cool Hands (Warm Heart)” and “Tiny Spark.” It’s a nice pairing, Benson’s crisp vocals, warm acoustic strumming, and solid lyrics with Tim Rice-Oxley and Tom Chaplin on accompanying keyboards and Richard Hughes taking the tambourine (though the laid-back spaciousness of these songs is distinctly missing Jack White’s chunky, crunchy guitars).  It’s a locked-in yet still mellow performance, a good lead-in for The Magic Numbers’ “Love Me Like You.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s synth-pop legends the Pet Shop Boys who finally get the show rocking and the audience up on its feet. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe launch things out with their most recent single, 2007’s slickly listenable “Integral.” For the clipped coolness of the lyrics (“I’m afraid it’s too late / We’re concerned you’re a threat / You’re not an integral part to the project / Sterile / Immaculate / Rational / Perfect”) there’s a nice lushness to this track, all blistering guitars and rising keyboard riffs. They follow this up with a look back at the ‘90s classic and fan-favorite “Being Boring,” an atmospheric, nostalgic song that feels like a good fit for the night’s proceedings.

Keane appear back onstage with pop chanteuse Lily Allen on her charming, effusive hit “Smile” and a cover of “Everybody’s Changing” off of Keane’s Under The Iron Sea. Allen’s voice is sweetly tongue-in-cheek on “Smile,” while she brings a wistfulness to the once-bitter tones of “Everybody’s Changing,” which finds itself lightened considerably here with rollicking acoustic guitars and keys, with Chaplin and crew looking like they’re enjoying themselves throughout.

Finally comes the set we’ve all been waiting for: Keane closing things out with a punchy, well-chosen roster of four songs. First there’s “Crystal Ball,” a single when this was recorded in 2007, which despite being admittedly a little cheesy, has a nice sense of propulsion and Chaplin’s warm, soaring vocals to keep things interesting. “I haven’t been very well recently, and I wasn’t supposed to burn myself out in the first song, but you got me a bit overexcited,” Chaplin says as he hands vocals over to the crowd on the band’s breakthrough single “Somewhere Only We Know,” which is a gorgeous crowd-pleaser as always, though Chaplin does look weary (this was recorded in fall 2007, and Chaplin was treated for substance abuse problems starting August 2006).  Meanwhile, “Under Pressure” is a valiant attempt at doing justice to the inimitable Queen/David Bowie collaboration (though instrumentally it sounds a little flimsy and less urgent than its predecessor) and “Bedshaped” sounds lovely as always, the band seeming relaxed and in sync after the turmoil of their Under The Iron Sea tour and Chaplin’s subsequent rehabilitation.

Bonus material featured here includes the video of Keane’s single “The Night Sky,” in addition to The Guillemots performing “Train To Brazil,” backstage interviews and footage, and a fascinating War Child section.

It’s an excellent cause to support and a solid DVD in one -- there’s no reason not to go for this one.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Rock Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.