Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BFF = Ben Folds Forever

She saw the lights, she saw the pale English face / Some strange machines repeating beats and thumping bass --"Zak and Sara"

D. and I caught the last night of Ben Folds' multicultural fall tour (he's got a British drummer and a Spanish bassist now). Beacon Theatre: still ornate, but falling apart in the stairwells, recently bought by the Dolans. A great mix of new and old stuff. Some really sensational covers such as a certain Dr. Dre song that he's recorded, performed in that gentle, knowing, ironic tone; a version of "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service, which he managed to kick up a notch; and Hank Williams' classic "Your Cheating Heart." All-around captivating piano (and synth) playing (banging?). Loved the Cage-ian hand-on-the-piano-strings touches now and then, as well as the occasional wordless instrumental vamps that I don't remember from previous concerts. Quirky singing-what-just-happened-to-the-band impromptu numbers. The guy's got the kind of talent that makes a live show that much cooler than just listening to the records. The audience participation on "Army" that he didn't even need to cue us for, that we remembered from previous tours. A youngish crowd, lots of high school girls dashing around the upper deck, chatting mid-song, but not so much that it totally ruined things. A longish set: two hours. Rounded out by a surprising first encore: "Narcolepsy," which I didn't love on the album, but can definitely appreciate in concert. Then "Rockin' the Suburbs" for the final encore, before Ben Folds ceremonially tossed his piano stool and the lights came up.

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