Concert review: Ben Folds at Rams Head Live
Midnight Sun guest poster Andy Rosen saw Ben Folds last night, Here is his review:
Last night's show at Rams Head Live was advertised as Ben Folds "and a Piano." Though Folds had the stage to himself, he spent part of the evening broadcasting randomly selected chat video dispatches from the freakish world of Chatroulette.
The foray into the Internet fad, which connects people and their web cams without prejudice, produced several rejected connections, a naked woman and a quick chat with a bejeweled man named "Blas."
But it was perhaps the people who Folds didn't bring to the stage who most defined his performance ...
Folds made his name with the piano rock trio Ben Folds Five, and continued his success with a series of albums filled with catchy, emotional and often satirical compositions. And though his keyboard has always been the focal point of his music, Folds' success has also been built on the big sound produced by his backing band.
Folds' Baltimore performance felt more like "An Evening with Ben Folds," than a rock concert. That's presumably how he wanted it. He played on the Internet. He told stories about writing his forthcoming album with novelist Nick Hornby.
He got up from his piano and conducted an enthusiastic crowd in a several minute, chant-ish vocal performance that evolved from his solo track "Not the Same." He also finished his encore and left the stage before 11 p.m.
For fans who were familiar with Folds' work, the North Carolina-grown singer's show was probably satisfying. He did the classics. Remember "Brick?" He played that, but he also busted out a new track, apparently pulled from the forthcoming album written with Hornby.
One of the songs was about Levi Johnson, who impregnated the daughter of former Alaska Gov. cum vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The key line?
"I'm a [expletive] redneck. I live to hang out with the boys, play some hockey and kill some moose."
But it's unclear how effective the show could have been in winning over new fans. This is an important consideration for a crowd that seemed largely composed of 20-something women and their reluctant boyfriends. One man on a piano can only do so much when he's playing songs that were written to be played with a rock band.
The bass fuzz and solid drums in Ben Folds Five and the high production values of his solo albums make the tracks what they are. Folds is good when he has company, be it on Chatroulette, in the crowd or on stage. He would do well to bring along a backup band if he wants to rock the house the next time he comes to town.