Concert Review: Ben Folds, May 11, Danforth Music Hall


Accompanying Ben Folds on his current tour are New York’s yMusic Ensemble, a six piece featuring strings and horns with whom Folds collaborated on his latest album So There. An impressive group of players, yMusic not only helped to flesh out Folds’ compositions, but also performed a couple of their own to great effect.

With such talented musicians backing him up, you might think that Folds would veer more towards his serious side and toss in a few more ballads and such, just to keep it classy, but Ben Folds kept it real, delivering some amusing improvised lyrics about random topics such as the West Bar at the venue (“where they sell Budweiser”) and the East bar (“where they also sell Budweiser”) as well as a bit about receiving the “Canadian cavity search” at the border. Furthermore, he pulled out a surprise cover in response to a shouted request – his version of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” At first he seemed hesitant, like he was going to blow it off, but he rolled with it. “We don’t know that one,” he said, “but I think we can throw something together.” And while the trope of doing an ironically mellow cover of a gangsta rap song is a bit played out at this point, Ben Folds was one of the first to do it, so we can let that one slide.

Overall, it was an enjoyable mix of old favourites (“Army,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Mess”) and newer material such as “Not A Fan” and “Long Way To Go.” Folds ended his set by leading the crowd in a beautiful mass singalong as though they were his own personal chorale, while also jokingly telling the crowd to “Suck it, Toronto!” before dropping the mic. This seems to be typical of a Ben Folds performance, which can run the gamut from serious, heartfelt ballads (a few of which he treated us to on this occasion) to more tongue in cheek material, sometimes seemingly all at once.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts