Ben Folds Rocked The Suburbs – The Space at Westbury

2 Jul

Ben Folds

On June 23 at the Space in Westbury Ben Folds was Ben Folds. I do not question that Ben Folds is himself every second of the day, but the cheeky, bespeckled singer/songwriter with enough wit to slay a room full of eager ears was able to completely express himself during the 26-track unplugged set. It was just Folds and his immense grand piano … and an impromptu drum set during “Steven’s Last Night in Town” (that proved that Folds is truly a renaissance musician). Most of all, though, it was an unconstrained Folds who was able to take a break from his orchestral tour and encourage several loud requests from a rambunctious crowd; although I was about to explode at the individual who obnoxiously yelled “play ‘Bitches Aint Sh*t'” around 50 times. Folds swooned the crowd with a jam-packed discography spanning his over 25-year career. Currently, Folds is in the midst of an honorable campaign to save Nashville’s Historic Studio A, and I mention this because it just further demonstrates that Folds is a musician’s musician, an ardent supporter of tunes and perspicacious purveyor of piano anthems.

Folds packed the new theater at Westbury, a surreptitiously large space with rows of seats set back behind the stage floor and elongated bar in a nook set stage left. The crowd spanned Folds’ career. Mid-90s aficionados recited the lyric of “The Last Polka” (off of the Ben Folds Five’s eponymous debut album), while newer Folds fans rocked out to “You Don’t Know Me,” a set-list surprise that sent the crowd in a dizzy – Folds depended on the female members of the audience to play Regina Spektor’s part, even though a rather intoxicated male screamed Spektor’s lines in a tune resembling a dying animal. It was, though, the zealous crowd that helped make the show. Folds balanced his songs from his standard setlist during his most recent tour (“Effington,” “Jesusland,” “Steven’s Last Night in Town”) with personal tributes to his early career (“Video,” “Tom & Mary,” and “Emaline”) – Check out the full setlist. The crowd ate everything up like the people at the restaurant in “All U Can Eat,” which he also played – well … maybe not those people who are all obnoxious gluttons, but you get my point. The crowd sang along with most songs, and this was a delightful touch that added energy to the show.

Best songs? “Fred Jones Part 2,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Army.” Each song was met by a singing crowd. Each song Folds played passionately, his vocal and piano reverberating throughout the venue. Folds is a consummate musician and it shows. But the best moment of the night came with the personal “Westbury” touch. After exchanging normal platitudes with the crowd and asking who was from Westbury, some individual in the back screamed that no one is actually from Westbury, which is obviously false but, at the time, it was rather funny. Folds proceeded to tell the audience a story of how he went to the Broadway Diner, a popular diner in Hicksville (near Westbury), which he turned into a circa-1964 British pop song with a catchy hook that he had the audience create a three-part harmony with. Why? Why do this? Because Folds loves music. He loves harmony. He loves entertaining. He is a tremendous musician, and this solo show at the Space was a testament to that.

Is Folds coming to your area? Take a look at his tour schedule.

One Response to “Ben Folds Rocked The Suburbs – The Space at Westbury”

  1. September 3, 2014 at 6:05 am #

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