Ben Folds & A Piano – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH – 04/15/2010 – Concert Review

Every once in a while I like to go to a concert to enjoy it and not worry about trying to take a ton of pictures and take notes to try and make a vivid review of my experience.  Honestly I do not mind doing it but sometimes it is nice just to sit back and soak in a performance by a great musician.  Thanks to my pal Matt from that Addicted To Vinyl website, I got to do just that enjoy an amazing performance by one of my favorite pianists out there, Mr. Bed Folds – and yet I could not help but write a little something about it.

It’s been years since I actually waited in line for a show before the doors opened but only because I needed to try and score a good spot for Matt and special guest.  A lot has changed over those years too come to think.  Back in the day I used to park blocks away from a venue for free or cheap parking and then wait upwards to an hour just to get a close spot to the stage.  These days I am feeling rather pretentious as I hand my keys over to a valet just around the corner and mosey in a venue whenever I feel like it.

I don’t need to be close to the stage anymore.  I have been there and still have scars to prove it.  I am perfectly contempt hanging in the shadows soaking in a live show.  In other words – I am getting older.  I am not old yet but you can bet your ass when I am old I will still be going to shows.

Matt Pond opened up the night for the sold out crowd at the House of Blues in Cleveland.  I am not sure really how I felt about his performance.  He was talented and had a singing style that kept reminding me of The Verve Pipe but it just lacked oomph.  With just Matt Pond and a guitarist on stage it didn’t have that energy needed to warm up the crowd enough.  Luckily with good conversation and a couple of PBRs the opener thanked the crowd and left the stage.

With just a piano on stage and also a black mat with a couple mics surrounding it, Folds casually walked onto the stage and the place erupted in cheer.  The more modern day Elton John, but much more vulgar, took a seat on his stool, greeted the crowd and began playing “Free Coffee” followed by “Annie Waits”, a song I should add was deemed “my jam” my our special guest of the evening.

I was thrilled to hear “All You Can Eat” which might be one of my favorite songs by Folds.  As I sang along I just was happy and enjoying myself with good friends and amazing music.  Of course that had to be interrupted.  Every single time Matt and I hang out something stupid happens.  I will explain in a moment.

Not only is Folds an amazing pianist but he is also a story teller and just hilarious to listen to.  Throughout the night in between songs I found myself cracking up at his remarks and comments be it him talking about the next song that he would play or just responding to the crowd.  It was not just the man on stage those being funny, there were some witty folk in the crowd as well.  I still laugh to myself at the fan who loudly and randomly said “Hi Ben” that just about caused Folds to even lose his concentration.

I might as well mention the other kinds of fans that were there…you know those fans.  The ones that pay money to see an artist and just talk through the whole set.  The ones that scream stupid things at the wrong moment thinking they are funny but results in a pissed off surrounding crowd.

Sadly I had a group of loud mouthed supposed fans behind where I was perched and they just had to lose all control of the volume of their voice and talk about how good their dinner was.  I finally could not take it and turned around and asked nicely for them to lower their voices so I could hear Folds play, you know, the guy who the tickets were purchased for.  I thought everything was fine and they seemed to agree until a hot head in the gang started yelling at me.  I did not take that kindly, exchanged some more words with “F”, “S”, and “A” being the first letters of those words and finally turned around.  They kept a respectful level of chit-chat after that.  I was so pissed off that I missed out on a couple of songs and apparently during my incident Folds was taking requests from the crowd on what songs to play next.

I was not the only one who had this issue either.  From all over the venue you could hear people screaming “shut up” to people who apparently like to spend money to sold out shows just so they could ignore the music and talk loudly.

So by the time I focused on the show Folds was holding a maraca in head and started playing the fake version of “Bitch Went Nutz” using the maraca and his fingers on the microphone to aid in a percussion of sorts.  It was awesome and it just got better from there as Folds played a brand new song from his up coming album he has been recording with Nick Hornby.  The song was called “Levi Johnston’s Blues” and is was all about Sarah Palin’s daughter’s former fiance.  I laughed my ass off during this song and well as nodded my head along with.

Another highlight to the evening for me was when Folds played “Steven’s Last Night In Town” a stagehand ran out with a tom drum so that Folds could play the ending beat.  While beating on the tom Folds and stagehand made way to the black mat I spoke of previously and as Folds played the tom the stagehand kept bringing out pieces and parts to the set until it was a full kit and Folds then played a crowd approving drum solo.

Instead of returning to the piano Folds took it upon himself to play “Hiro’s Song” while playing the drums.  He also added in a little freestyle song in so that no one would be able to sing along.  He then returned to the piano and played “The Luckiest” followed by the always amazing “Rock This Bitch”, which was requested by a fan.

The crowd helped with “Not The Same” adding a chilling harmony at Folds’ request.  Leave it to some drunk ass who sung out of key on purpose for a brief moment to piss off, one again, his surrounding neighbors.  “Shut the f— up” was screamed at the moron by another fan which apparently got some other drunks excited and they started shouting out stuff.  Way to go drunk-tards of Cleveland for adding your spice to an amazing song.  Seriously, thanks.

Playing “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” Folds just beat the hell out of his piano as the crowd went nuts.  I am always in awe watching him play live, it is something that needs to be seen.  Striking the last note of the song Folds took his stool slammed it on the piano and left the stage.

Luckily he returned for an encore as it was apparent the crown was not done just yet.  Playing “Rockin’ The Suburbs” the crowd once again erupted in approval and sang along.  Ending the near two hour set Folds merged into “Song For The Dumped” and upon finishing it thanked Cleveland and left the stage.

It was a great concert, the kind where you leave satisfied and talk about the show all the way to your car, or to the valet in my case.  I was thrilled to hear so many Ben Folds Five songs played as well as hearing some of the other tracks from albums like Rockin’ The Suburbs and Songs For Silverman.  I can admit I was not the biggest fan of Way To Normal but regardless I enjoyed the selections he performed from that release as well.  Folds was on top of his game as always and put forth a great solo show to all.  I can not wait till he comes back next time, hopefully with Nick Hornby…that would be amazing.

Here’s a review of a Ben Folds performance at an over sized venue and free for students resulting in even more annoyance for the true fans.

Set List:
Free Coffee
Annie Waits
Sentimental Guy
Effington
Time
Landed
All U Can Eat
Brainwascht
Gone
Bitch Went Nutz (Fake Version)
Levi Johnston’s Blues (new track featuring lyrics by Nick Hornsby)
Picture Window
You Don’t Know Me
Still Fighting It
Zak and Sara
Steven’s Last Night in Town (Ben Folds Five Cover)
Hiro’s Song
The Luckiest
Rock This Bitch
Emaline (Ben Folds Five cover)
(Unknown)
Army (Ben Folds Five cover)
Not the Same
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (Ben Folds Five cover)

Encore:
Rockin’ the Suburbs
Song for the Dumped (Ben Folds Five cover)

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