Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ben Folds Five’s first tour in over a decade

Flickr/Eyton Z

Last Thursday night, Mountain Park in Holyoke was the lucky venue for the first show in the new Ben Folds Five tour in over a decade. Showcasing songs from their new album “The Sound of the Life of the Mind,” the trio played for hundreds of dedicated fans.

After the hauntingly operatic and melodic vocals of Kate Miller-Heidke, the trio Ben Folds Five was set to take the stage. Concert goers moved away from the beer and food tents to fill in the remaining floor seats in front of the stage, while last minute attendees spread blankets on the open green of the park’s general seating. In the cool fall air of Holyoke Mass. under the multicolored stage lights, Ben Folds Five began their first live tour together in over ten years.

Composed of a wide range of audience members, from seasoned Ben Folds fans such as Julie Scott of Assumption College and sound consultant Nicole Cuff to first-time concert goer 15 year old Jennika Harning, Ben Folds Five attracted fans of all ages to their premier show of their new tour.

“We’ve been going to a bunch of Ben Folds’ concerts for a while now,” said Cuff, “It’s different; we’ve never seen Ben Folds Five. He’s just an unbelievable talent.”

Starting the night off with a previously un-played song “Michael Prayton,” the trio brought unparalleled energy to the stage. Banging on the piano with unmatched ferocity, Folds led the show covering both vocals and piano, while accompanied by bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee. The decade apart didn’t seem to have ruined the musical vitality of the group, as the trio brought life to every note played on the stage.

While performing “Erase Me,” a song promised on their new album, the trio timed stage light flashes with drum hits as Fold’s hands flew rapidly over the keyboard during his solos. Ending the song to appreciative cheers, Folds answered back “That’s s**** you gotta concentrate on when you play.”

Before playing their song “Uncle Walter,” Folds took time to tell the audience a little background on the piece.

Inspired by the mother of a member of an old band in high school, Folds explained how he, as the only member without a license, would have to sit and talk with the guitarist’s mother after band practice.

“There were some character building experiences in that time” Folds said. “It’s not what you’re thinking, she would just trap me in a corner and tell me what she would do as president of the time.”

After the quick story and song, Folds couldn’t contain his excitement about starting off the tour. He told the crowd, “I don’t normally wear Depends, but tonight is a Depends night for me.”

During the performance. Folds recounted a show where he talked of ignoring the audience’s desire for a hit song to be played.

“We never played the song, but we walked off at the end of the night to a dance remix of it,” Folds said.

The crowd was more than appreciative to hear Fold’s new music; however, they really got into the show after the trio played their hit “Brick,” during which the audience was near completely silent during Folds’ emotionally charged ballad.

After “Brick,” the audience  saw the end of the show was in sight and brought their energy up a level. The crowd danced and sang, particularly when the group sang their last two songs “Army” and “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” tunes that most of the audience members seemed to know the words to.

At the end of their final song, Folds picked up his piano stool, and at the cheers of a standing ovation, threw it full force into his piano, bowing and walking away as the last sounds of the piano reverberated in the background. It wasn’t until after a prolonged encore cheer that the trio returned to the stage, sarcastically replying “they’re breaking through the electric fence … security!”

Back on stage, the trio pumped out one of their hits, “Song for the Dumped” to a cheering crowd. Folds’ explained that the piece was first played live at the local venue The Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass.

The trio ended the night with their hit “Underground.” Folds started the song by saying. “I was never cool at school,” and singing “show me the mosh pit,” as is customary for the song. Audience members began to cheer and clap as they recognized the beginning of this fan favorite.

Jesse Harrison, a local music blogger from Northampton Mass., described the performance of ‘Underground’ as “CD perfect.”

“There was great energy from note one,” Harrison added about the show.

Justin Surgent can be reached at [email protected].


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  • K

    KJSep 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    First show was actually NYC Central Park last Friday