Ben Folds - Ben Folds LiveCulled from the tour supporting of his excellent 2001 album Rockin’ The Suburbs, Ben Folds Live gives us a chance to hear Folds unplugged – just one man and his piano…as if that’s somehow a limitation. Folds makes the best of some of the more “produced” numbers by getting the audience to provide some backup (most notably on “Army”, which demonstrates that there were a lot of damn good singers in his audience that night, as does “Not The Same”). In other cases – “Fred Jones Part 2”, “The Luckiest” and “Jane” among them – he doesn’t need any elaborate backing; the songs are strong enough to stand on their own merits.

Some lesser-known live chestnuts of the Ben Folds Five era also pop up, including the excellent “Silver Street”, and even a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” makes the list. Folds himself is quiet and unassuming, occasionally introducing the songs with a preamble explaining their origins, but he doesn’t go on and on about it. At one point, he interrupts the intro to “Brick “to assure everyone present that the abortion-themed number has no political agenda, but merely relays the raw emotions of the event, and then promptly 4 out of 4apologizes for stopping her performance for that explanation. Without even trying to be funny, he still is – and I think all this adds up to something called showmanship without being overly showy.

Definitely one of the better live albums I’ve heard, and certainly good enough to convince me to jump at the chance to see Folds live should he pass this way anytime soon.

Order this CD

  1. One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces (4:17)
  2. Zak And Sara (3:24)
  3. Silver Street (3:41)
  4. Best Imitation Of Myself (3:13)
  5. Not The Same (4:31)
  6. Jane (2:34)
  7. One Down (4:03)
  8. Fred Jones Part 2 (4:40)
  9. Brick (4:45)
  10. Narcolepsy (6:04)
  11. Army (3:41)
  12. The Last Polka (3:55)
  13. Tiny Dancer (5:23)
  14. Rock This Bitch (1:17)
  15. Philosophy (7:17)
  16. The Luckiest (4:39)
  17. Emaline (3:50)

Released by: Epic
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 71:14