Tom Chaplin at the Islington Assembly Hall
On a stage spookily adorned for Halloween, Tom Chaplin returns to London three years after his last show with Keane. It’s the final night of an intimate promotional tour, ahead of the series of 14 concerts next May across the country and Ireland. The cosy feel of the Islington Assembly Hall fits nicely for the singer-songwriter to reunite with his fans, friends and family.
Showing off a confident yet candid attitude, Chaplin reaches the microphone, closes his eyes and begins to sing Still Waiting, the opening piece of his debut album The Wave. It took longer than expected for his solo career to launch: the frontman hinted multiple times at an imminent release throughout 2015; however, his erratic behaviour was influenced by a difficult process of rehabilitation from drug addiction. “This record is about opening, I’ve been afraid of the dark recesses in my soul all my life, it feels much better now,” says Chaplin.
The Wave is solid – there are 11 well-written songs and five bonus tracks that could have easily been on the album as well – which makes for a surprisingly rich setlist. Hardened Heart and I Remember You are instant classics and early highlights of tonight’s performance. There is room for Keane singles too (his bandmates are watching him from the gallery) – first Silenced by the Night, then Sovereign Light Café and during the encore Everybody’s Changing – but the quality of his own material is impressive. Bring the Rain stands out on the record and live; it’s a magnificent ballad, intense and heartbreaking; it’s the cry of a tormented soul, but ultimately uplifting. The River is the surprise of the set, which ends with Chaplin introducing The Wave saying it’s a “song about not being in opposition to life and what life throws at you, and going with the flow”.
The three-piece encore comes to a conclusion with the choral See It So Clear. “I couldn’t believe your generosity, feedback and support for this step away from the land of Keane, listening to the songs I’ve written,” confesses the frontman. With music so exquisite, this isn’t a vanity exercise, it’s a new genuine career.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
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