Ben Folds to be Rockin’ the Calvin Saturday night

By Ellie Rulon-Miller

Ben-Folds_345Singer-songwriter-pianist Ben Folds is performing in Northampton tomorrow night at the Calvin Theater.

Folds, who has been writing and performing for over two decades, will be joined by Australian performer Kate Miller-Heidke. She will be the show’s opening act. This is the first major U.S. Tour for Miller-Heidke, who is best known for her Internet hit “Are You F*cking Kidding Me? (The Facebook Song).”

Miller-Heidke released an EP in the United States last Tuesday that will be available at all of her stops on the tour.

Her sound is not unlike Folds.’ She too plays piano and sings alternative pop music. Visually, she is the Lady Gaga of female piano pop, with a bleached, almost white hair and a unique sense of style.

Miller-Heidke is releasing her album “Curiouser,” which is already popular in her home country, in January. The album is the first time that she has worked with her partner, Keir Nuttall. She has said that “songwriting was always too personal and I felt too self-conscious” to work on her music with someone else. She says that she and Nuttall “bring out the best of each other.”

Her songs range from slow and soft to edgy and dance-infused. Her Australian accent adds more uniqueness to her sound.

Folds has been in several bands since the late 1980s but is best known for his solo endeavors and the trio Ben Folds Five, his group from 1993 to 2000. He has been releasing full-length albums and EPs since 2001.

For his latest release, University A Capella, Folds recorded different student a capella groups singing 16 of his songs. It came out in April.

Folds also contributed to the soundtrack for the film Over The Hedge in 2006. He recorded three original songs, a Clash cover, and a new version of his first single, “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” with lyrics that went with the film.

His sound is catchy, and contains equal parts of both pop and alternative. Folds is an artist who is easy to appreciate. He has a natural ability to write catchy songs and has some serious skills on a piano.

Folds also teamed up with English novelist Nick Hornby to write a song about Levi Johnston called “Levi Johnston Blues.” The song has a legitimate modern-blues sound with hilarious lyrics mocking Johnston. The chorus alone is enough to tickle your humor: “I’m a f*cking redneck, I like to hang out with the boys, play some hockey, do some fishin’ and kill some moose. I like to shoot the sh*t, do some chillin’ I guess.”

Concertgoers can expect Folds to play a couple of his singles as well as a few fan favorites. Recent setlists from previous stops on this tour show that he has regularly been playing songs such as “Zak and Sara” and “Effington.” Because he is touring with Miller-Heidke, he has been playing “You Don’t Know Me,” a single from his 2008 solo release Way to Normal, which features a female guest vocalist (on the album, Regina Spektor).

The performance is tomorrow night at the Calvin Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $45 on the Calvin Theater website.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at [email protected].