There’s a new date to add to the annals of Battle Abbey alongside that of 14th October 1066 – the 8th August 2015 – when Keane returned for their homecoming gig, to the iconic location that so dominates the landscape of the town of Battle and also the history of England.
This was an altogether more welcome invasion, which included both the band, and their ardent fans from around the globe. It’s hard to know whether Tom Chaplin and Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane, or the audience of assembled Keane fans, enjoyed the momentous and memorable gig more!
The Battle born-and-bred founding duo of Keane, were visibly emotional as they shared a man-hug at the end of the gig, which marked their first official session together in 2 years.
As Tom Chaplin said on Twitter:
“Thanks everyone for carrying us along in Battle tonight…not a technically perfect gig but full of heart and soul!”
This sentiment is summed up beautifully by the following video, showing the crowd singing along enthusiastically as the power cut out at the start of ‘Bedshaped’:
There were only about 400 audience members at the gig in the beautiful grounds of the historic Abbey, made up of local residents, international members of the Keane fan club, and lucky callers who had snapped up the remaining tickets.
By a happy coincidence, an international Fan’s convention was also happening locally, so fans from countries as far afield as Paraguay, Australia and Taiwan, mingled happily with Battle-ites, and other locals who have followed their meteoric musical success with interest.
The gig itself was a result of Tim Rice-Oxley’s continuing support and patronage of the annual Battle Arts Festival, and the concert raised well-deserved funds and awareness of the event, which is in October later this year. See the events timetable here. One of the stand-out opportunities is the Music Mentoring sessions up for grabs with Tim Rice-Oxley, which equates to a precious hour of one to one mentoring with the Ivor-Novello winning songwriter himself. Find out how to be in with a shot of becoming one of the 8 winners here. Testament to the success of this home-grown initiative, were that the Support acts for this gig – Dorey the Wise , and Rachel Wilson – received this priceless mentoring last year.
Of course, the main draw of the evening were the homecoming, chart-topping heroes, who became famous around the world for their chart-topping albums ‘Hopes and Fears’ (2004 – 05) , Under the Iron Sea (2006 – 07), Perfect Symmetry (2008 – 09) and Strangeland (2012 – 13). The group is officially made up of Tim Rice-Oxley (pianist), Tom Chaplin (Lead singer), Richard Hughes (drummer) and Jesse Quin (guitarist).
Here is a brief timeline of the Keane story to date:
– 1993 A rock group called ‘The Lotus Eaters’ was formed, with Rice-Oxley, Scott (who later left the band), and Hughes. They started as a cover band.
– 1997 Chris Martin of Coldplay invited Tim Rice-Oxley to join the newly-formed Coldplay, but he declined.
– 1997 Tom Chaplin joined the band, taking Tim’s previous role of lead-singer. The band also changed their name to ‘Cherry Keane’ after a friend of Chaplin’s mother, whom Rice-Oxlwy and Chaplin knew when they were younger. She encouraged them to follow their dreams, and left money to Chaplin’s family in her will, which proved useful in allowing Tom to pursue his dreams. The band later shortened their name.
– 2003 The band signed to Island Records following a label bidding war, after being spotted performing live and being Radio One’s Single of the Week.
– 2004 Debut album Hopes and Fears was released, it debuted at Number One on the UK albums chart and stayed in the chart for 72 weeks. It has been certified 9 x platinum in the UK.
– 2005 Keane won two awards for ‘Best British Album’ and ‘Best British Breakthrough act’ at the prestigious Brit Awards. Tim Rice Oxley also won the Ivor Novello award for songwriter of the year. They also performed at the Live 8 concert and were part of the recording for the Band Aid 20 updated charity single.
– 2006 Their second album Under the Iron Sea was released, after being recorded at Heliocentric Recording Studios in Rye, East Sussex (as was Hopes and Fears). Tom Chaplin admitted himself to a clinic for drinking and drug problems during their promotional touring.
– 2008 Album Perfect Symmetry was released. Hopes and Fears (no.13) and Under the Iron Sea (no.8) were voted by readers of Q magazine as two of the best ever British Albums.
– 2009 Hope and Fears listed as the 9th best-selling album of the 2000’s decade.
– 2012 Jessie Quin officially became a member of the band. The album Strangeland was recorded at Tim Rice-Oxley’s Sea Fog Studios in Polegate, East Sussex and was released, which peaked at number one in the UK Albums Chart. The Strangeland tour kicked off at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex. The single Sovereign Light Cafe was also released, the video was filmed in Bexhill, and includes shots of the cafe itself.
– 2013 A greatest hits album The Best of Keane was released. The band is now taking some time out, and Tom has expressed a desire to release solo material, but hasn’t as yet.
– 2015 Tom and Tim’s Back to Battle concert at Battle Abbey to raise money for Battle Arts Festival.
No matter how far around the world their fame and concerts have taken them, they have always championed and celebrated this wonderful corner of the south of England in East Sussex that they once called home, and they obviously still hold in great affection.
This is abundantly clear in the single which was the final song in this concert – “Sovereign Light Cafe” the video for this was filmed in Bexhill, and used lots of local talent. The catchy and upbeat song also namechecks several roads in Battle – and I’m sure Tom was only joking when he suggested fans at the gig take home a roadsign from Marley Lane or North Trade Road as a memento of their time in Strangeland!
Without doubt, many visitors from further afield in the UK and from overseas, would have taken this golden opportunity to visit the places made so famous in their music, and see where Tim, Tom and Richard from the band spent their formative years.
The Keane Trail is a local tourism initiative supported by the band which provides a map pinpointing places of interest that relate to the band or their music, and the website also includes interviews with the band members. It’s clear that the Battle Abbey concert, as well as the Keane Trail, has provided a great boost to the local economy by promoting the area as a destination to visit and enjoy.
The Abbey Hotel, in Battle High Street, which has been freshly refurbished, was certainly buzzing with extra custom as fans enjoyed a relaxing drink before the gates opened for the concert.
The concert itself was held in the historic and impressive Abbey grounds, just in front of the ruins of the church that William the Conqueror ordered to be built in atonement for all of the lives lost during the Norman Conquest in 1066. Concertgoers enjoyed local delicacies and sipped a cool drink as they enjoyed the relaxed ambience, enjoying the support acts before the band made their triumphant and nostalgic entrance onto the ‘Back to Battle’ stage.
The group have previously played two other intimate gigs in the town – both times at the Memorial Halls on the High Street (in 2004 and in 2013) but this was their first concert within the Abbey grounds. Due to the relatively small crowd, it felt very special to be one of lucky ‘golden ticket’ holders, and to mingle with friends and family of the band, who clearly relished another chance to ‘do their thing’ on home-turf.
Tim Rice-Oxley almost got away with chatting and laughing with family members in the crowd, before he took to the stage, but when he was spotted, he was happy to pose for a cherished photo with fans that requested it. I even spotted one lady who was identifiable as a member of the Keane fan club by the lanyard she was wearing, dissolve into tears of happiness, following her photo opportunity.
Despite the fact that there were only two people on stage – Tim (on keyboards, and backing vocals) and Tom (lead singer and occasional guitar player) – the pair held the rapturous audience in the palm of their hand during their set. Tim let his music do the talking, as he played with typical bounce and vigour and Tom’s articulate voice was very impressive live – soaring to the high notes with apparent ease – and not begrudging the raucous audience participation!
Tom displayed a great deal of self-deprecating humour throughout, even managing to make a joke out of the fact that the electric cut out a few times, by saying that it was probably installed in 1066! Aside from the good-humoured banter with the crowd, Tom also thanked everyone involved in bringing the concert to fruition, and showed his appreciation for the fans who had travelled from far and near to share the occasion. The set list boasted all of their hits, including an on-stage collaboration of ‘Somewhere only we know’ with local mentee’s Dorey the Wise and Rachel Wilson, plus popular covers of Take That’s ‘Back for Good’ and The Beatles ‘We can work it out’ .
Tom cheekily suggested to fans that they could go and knock on Paul McCartney’s door following the concert, as ‘he only lives down the road…!’
The final song of the well-received set could only really be the local homage of ‘Sovereign Light Cafe’, with raucous accompaniment from the assembled crowd, before the talented duo disappeared into the darkness of the Abbey grounds, leaving the crowd chanting enthusiastically for an encore …….
Keane fans want more, and are hoping that the band are indeed going to reunite and create new music together again, and that this wasn’t the group’s swansong. Keane have been on a hiatus since 2013, and Tom Chaplin has said that he intends to release a solo album, so the sign’s aren’t promising…but maybe, just maybe, the magic of being reunited on the Battle Abbey stage will remind them of just how much fun it can be.
Tom Chaplin Bio
Born: 8th March 1979
Background: His parents are David Chaplin (OBE) and Sally Taylor. He was born about 1 month apart from Tim Rice-Oxley’s younger brother, also called Tom. Their mothers became friends, and his friendship with the two Rice-Oxley brothers continues to this day. His dad Richard was headmaster of Vinehall School in Robertsbridge, which he attended alongside Tim, and also Richard Hughes (another Keane member). Whilst at Vinehall, he acted in several plays and was part of the school’s choral group. He later attended Tonbridge School.
Interests: Tom is an Ipswich Town fan, he is also an avid cricket fan, supporting both Sussex and England. Tom’s family now run a charity called Rwanda Aid, with Tom helping to fund several projects in the country.
Challenges: Tom took a break from Keane’s 2006 tour, by hopping on a flight from Japan back to London, to enter the Priory Clinic for treatment for drug and alcohol problems. He cites finding new obsessions of playing golf and cricket, as having providing a successful diversion from these addictions.
Special Times: He fulfilled a lifetime ambition of performing with the remaining Queen members at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala in 2010. After returning from a gap-year in South Africa in 1998, he was told by bandmate Richard Hughes, “We’ve got a gig in 10 days.”
Family: Tom now lives in Wittersham, Kent, and has been married to Natalie Dive since 2011. They have a daughter who was born in 2014.
Tim Rice-Oxley Bio
Born: 2nd June 1976
Background: Tim was brought up in Battle, East Sussex by parents Charles and Margaret Rice-Oxley. An interesting fact is that his great, great- grandfather, great-grandfather, grandfather, father, mother and brother, are all doctors. He had piano lessons when he was a teenager, but hated the classical music and tests he used to have. It was only after his parents stopped the lessons, that he taught himself to play, mainly because of the Beatles.
Interests: Tim is more of a closed-book, as he isn’t on Twitter, and tries to keep a low-profile as much as possible.
Challenges: Reportedly, the effects of touring took their toll on Tim’s marriage to Jayne, and they split up in 2012 after seven years of marriage. He has also said how much he has missed his children whilst away.
Special Times: Tim is the principal songwriter for Keane and has composed all their songs. He has also written songs for/in collaboration with Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue and Gary Barlow. He won the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year in 2005.
Family: Tim now lives in Polegate, East Sussex. He has two children with his ex-wife Jayne.
Click here for a link to the 1066 Times You Tube channel, which has got videos from the concert, or click below, plus Visit the 1066 Times Facebook Page for a chance to win ‘The Best of Keane – Deluxe Edition’ double CD! :
Visit the 1066 Times Facebook Page for a chance to win ‘The Best of Keane – Deluxe Edition’ double CD!