The Truth About Music

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Is Ben Folds the Greatest Performer of Our Generation?


Greatness comes around once in a while and when it enters your presence you just know. My question after seeing Ben Folds and his band for the second time last night, is he the greatest performer of our generation? Of course you have the greatest performers of our parents generation who would include Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Michael Jackson but who fills that void for us?

I think he might be the answer. Opening the show with a mix of “real” and “fake” songs (for an explanation of “real” and “fake” read “Ben Folds: Rockin the City, and the Suburbs)” from his latest album “Way to Normal,” he quickly moved the show through a fast paced look at the last 15 years of music. During all of it, Ben always remains cool onstage, explaining his songwriting process, how he achieves certain sounds, all with a little humor.

Ironically enough he left some of his larger hit songs off of the set list for the night, something that the die hard fans didn’t care about. Among the notable missing songs were “You Don’t Know Me,” “Gone,” “Brick,” and the “The Luckiest.” These more well known songs were replaced with some others that I loved seeing performed live. There was a great moment in the show in which the band began to play “The Battle of Who Could Care Less,” a lesser known song off of “Whatever and Ever Amen.” This song was the first Ben Folds song I had ever listened to and really drew me into further listening.

As the show moved into it’s later stages, he broke out a string of three of his most notable songs “Army,” “Not the Same,” and “Rockin the Suburbs.” These three songs together were just magical as they flowed right into each other with the conductor (Ben Folds) leading the way. After a breif absense from stage the band returned to play a lesser known song (this is a Ben Folds tradition) called “Fair.” From what I can gather the song was only recorded once by Ben Folds and it was live with Guster. It was a fitting way to end a truely great night of music at Schubert Theater.

I wanted to add one more breif paragraph to this entry, a way of allowing those not in attendance to understand how this show was set up. The Schubert Theater is a seated venue and although this seemed like a great way to watch Ben Folds (and it was) it was just weird to be seated throughout the entire show. There were some people singing and others clapping, but for the most part the crowd remained seated. For someone used to watching a show standing (and usually pushing sweaty people off me) it was nice to just sit and listen to a master at work.

To see the guesstimated set list and pictures by Mercury Studios check out:

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