Ben Folds, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Thursday 24 February 2011
Slight of frame, sensibly dressed and bespectacled, Ben Folds takes to the Hammersmith Apollo stage, stands at a grand piano, and plays a monumental two and a half hour set which brings the house down. Now 44, Folds still has more energy and enthusiasm than men half his age, and can rock harder than most of them to boot. Appearances, it seems, can be deceiving.
Beginning with the irreverent "Levi Johnston's Blues", a blues-rock song about Bristol Palin's now-infamous pregnancy, Folds' taste for the unusual is instantly apparent, but so is his knowledge of melody and tone. Moving into "Doc Pomus", Folds and his band combine Beach Boys harmonies with a formidable bass-heavy punch, a sound familiar to any fans of the sadly defunct Ben Folds Five. A tongue-in-cheek – yet still excellent – cover of Ke$ha's "Sleazy" ("we decided to cover whatever was the iTunes No 1," Folds dryly informs us) and the pun-filled "Effington" reveal Folds' playful side. But later on, tracks like "Still Fighting It" and "Mess" show Folds can also write some magical, moving stuff when he wants to. The mammoth 27-song setlist indicates the sheer strength of Folds' enormous back-catalogue, while the precision with which the band has honed Folds' unique brand of piano-driven rock is tonight never less than totally capivating.
Folds himself is the high point of the show however, his communicative voice and deft ear for composition amazing the audience time and again. Add to this his effortlessly brilliant, note-perfect virtuosity at the piano and you get a frontman whose talent defies description. It's an absolute joy to watch someone so gifted perform, and Folds can be persuasive, poignant or punk depending on his mood. The stunning encore "Not The Same" epitomises the show, Folds making a choir of the rapt crowd; they'll follow his lead anywhere, you sense. Tonight it's easy to see why.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 HSBC closes bank accounts belonging to Muslim clients in the UK
Led Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
New film Old Fashioned is 50 Shades of Grey for Christians, claims its creator
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
Guardians of the Galaxy review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
R Kelly 'dropped' from Ohio music festival following backlash
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >