Ben Folds – Wiltern, LA

Keeping my word from my last post, here’s a short review of the first of several concerts we have going on this summer/fall.  I had mentioned that I thought that Ben Folds would be a quiet affair, and I guess that was based on my limited experience with his discography.  While there was a lull during the middle of the set when his band left him to play some of his softer numbers like The Luckiest, the majority of the show was rockin’ as Ben banged on his piano and his band, flush with two drummers (0ne who doubled as a guitarist), a bassist, and a keyboardist/french horn player, also added a good bit of sound.  His band complemented him well, and all got shout outs at various points in the show from Ben.  I was amazed by his piano playing, he spent most of the concert playing the piano in a half-stand, half crouch, and sometimes had one hand on the piano while the other was working a keyboard at his side.

I did know that Ben Folds was a witty lyricist, and that translated into some great between-song banter.  Before playing a cover of a Ke$ha song, he told a funny story about the night before the show involving his cell phone, a pool, and a surprise appearance by Ke$ha saving the day (diving into the pool fully clothed to retrieve Ben’s cell phone from the deep end).  He also had some great monologues about some of the new songs he had written with Nick Hornby.  His stage presence reminded me of John Darnielle.

Two favorite moments from the show.  When the group came out for their encore, the drummers came out first and Ben joined them in creating some juicy beats.  Then Ben took a turn on the bass and did some funky slap bass as the drummers shifted into funk mode.  Really cool.  Even better, when Folds was introducing his cover of Dr. Dre’s Bitches Ain’t Shit, he announced that he had trouble remembering the lyrics and a roadie brought a microphone to the center of the stage.  Oh crap, I thought, he’s going to bring Snoop out to rap.  Wrong.  After going through the first verse, who comes out but Bob Sagat.  Yeah, that Bob Sagat.  It was definitely the craziest concert moment I can remember.  He was pretty terrible as a rapper, but he hung in there and even came back out to help the band finish up the extended outro.

This was a show that had the best element that makes a great live show in spades.  Spontaneity.  I would definitely go see Ben Folds again just to see what he has in store for his audience.

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4 Responses to “Ben Folds – Wiltern, LA”

  1. lilcog Says:

    Did he play two full sized pianos at the same time? He’s a hoot!

  2. hammocksrus Says:

    Nah, one full sized and an electric keyboard.

  3. Get Lykke Li to the Greek « Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] the energy and banter that typified the recent Ben Folds show I attended, I was expecting a more relaxed and staid show from Lykke Li last week.  […]

  4. Looking Back at 2011 « Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] Concert – Ben Folds at The Wiltern.  I loved the stage banter, the energy, and the music was phenomenal.  I went in with only a […]

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