I was first introduced to Ben Folds in 2008, when the sound technician at the theatre I worked at used the Ben Folds Five as sound check music. By the end of the week I had to ask him what was playing and it was instantly added to my very small iTunes library- which at the time mainly consisted of show tunes and 80s rock! (I did discover that I knew a fair few of their songs already though)
Since then I revisit the Ben Folds playlist quite a lot, and when I discovered that he was playing Norwich I jumped at the chance to see him live. He last played Norwich over 20 -years ago so it felt very special to be at this one night only sold out gig. I hope that it doesn’t take him another 20 years to come back.
Ben Folds is regarded as one of the major music influencers of this generation. Even if you haven’t heard of him you probably know more of his work than you thought. In the last 10 years he has worked with Symphony Orchestras, now returning to his older work – touring the world playing his classics on a piano.
This show made me fall in love with his songs all over again.
All there was was an empty stage, a Steinway and a spotlight. And it was perfect.
What we were treated to were little snippets of his life interspersed with some well known songs. In place of his band he lead the audience in a singalong for vital parts of the songs that needed another voice. This seemed to bring him joy which was infectious throughout the auditorium.
Highlights included Brick. Kate. Annie Waits. Stevens Last Night in Town. Gracie. And my personal favourite- One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces. An encore of Rock This Bitch in Norwich, seemingly improvised about his time in Norwich brought many laughs, he told us how his hotel window didn’t open, the theatre has a rubbish tumble dryer and his friend Amanda Palmer will be playing the next night and how we should go ( I already had a ticket).
It was lovely to hear his songs stripped down to just a piano (and one fab drum solo), hearing how they sounded when they were created.
If you have the chance before the end of the month he has a few more UK tour dates – don’t miss out on this look back at his back catalogue.