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Ben Folds, HMV Institute, Birmingham

February 22, 2011

Ben Folds is someone who I’ve wanted to see for a long time and there was a small doubt in my mind that he’d be able to live up to the idea of how good I thought he’d be. Thankfully, within the first few verses I was safe in the knowledge that in some cases you definitely should believe the hype. Ben Folds is a consummate performer, he commands both the attention of the crowd and the music that he plays with an ease and skill that is rare. He addresses the crowd frequently and responds to their heckles, singing a song on the subject of the shouting themselves, weaving in references and asides to the words screamed as they interrupt his song. He also panders to a shouted request, playing ‘Hiro’s Song’ A Capella as he claims he can’t remember the chords, an act that is met with rapturous applause. The tracks from his recently collaboration with Nick Hornby on the album Lonely Avenue (No. 6 in the Top Tens of 2010 here) sound brilliant live, with the catchy hooks inspiring sing-a-longs from the crowd.

Highlights of the set included ‘Rockin’ The Suburbs’ and ‘Zac & Sara’ simply for the ferver that they inspired in the crowd as they sang along at the top of their voices. A cover of the Kesha song ‘Sleazy’ also proved to be a high point in the set on the strength of its execution, the song sounded infinitely better in the hands of an accomplished musician. Ben Folds explained the choice of song by stating that it had been chosen because it was at the top of the iTunes chart when they came to deciding on a song to cover for the tour, and even though minutes later it had been replaced, by another Kesha song they’d stuck with it and I’m glad they did. Ben Folds is definitely an artist that I’d jump at the chance at seeing again and if you haven’t yet experienced him live, then I’d suggest you do.

Set List

Levi Johnston’s Blues
Gone
Doc Pomus
Belinda
Sleazy (Kesha cover)
You to Thank
Cologne
Rock This Bitch
Bastard
Still Fighting It
Landed Play Video
Fred Jones Pt. 2
Last Polka
Picture Window
Hiro’s Song
Annie Waits
Hiroshima
From Above (with Kate Miller-Heidke)
You Don’t Know Me (with Kate Miller-Heidke)
Saskia Hamilton
Effington
Zak and Sara
Bitch Went Nutz
Kate (Ben Folds Five)
Rockin’ the Suburbs
Army (Ben Folds Five)

Encore

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (Ben Folds Five)

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