Having seen two Ben Folds performances prior to Saturday night’s show at the House of Blues in Boston, I knew I was in for a good time before I even arrived inside the venue. However, this show marked the first time I’d be able to see Ben Folds Five, the trio that jump-started my man crush on the bespectacled ivory tickler. By the end of the night, I would develop man crushes on bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee as well. The out-of-hibernation BF5 put on an unforgettable show, with two hours of classics as well as some choice new material from their latest album, The Sound of The Life of The Mind.
Opening with that album’s “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later” (one of the best of the new nuggets,) the fellas sounded and looked great. I was on the opposite side of the stage from Folds and his piano, so I didn’t get to see him that well. However, he was his usual charming, amiable self—gracious to his bandmates and joking with the audience. He took the typical frat-tards continuous shouting of “Rock This Bitch” and “Bitches Ain’t Shit!” during the show with grace, by which I mean that he ignored them. Seriously, who wants to hear song titles shouted at them during a show? Meanwhile, Jessee proved himself a champion drummer, capable of everything from punk-rock thrashing to complicated jazz fills. No slouch himself, Robert Sledge ably switched from electric to acoustic bass, served as Ben’s main vocal foil, and had enough rock star moves for the other two members of the band (who didn’t have the benefit of being able to perform while standing.)
As for the songs? The screamers eventually got “Rock This Bitch” (recontextualized with Folds freestyling lyrics about being in Boston.) We also got all of the BF5 biggies-from “Alice Childress” to an incredibly upbeat “Song for the Dumped.” The audience sang along through pretty much the entire show, as there were no curveballs thrown other than a poignant version of the Folds solo classic “Landed.”
All in all, a great show made even better by the presence of opening act Kate Miller-Heidke. I’ve seen the Australian performer (joined by guitarist Kier Nuttall) open for Ben solo (as well as play a headlining set of her own) and she doesn’t disappoint. If her vocal range doesn’t wow you (seriously, this woman could sing an opera,) then the casual and charming way with which she drops jokes about vaginal dilation will. She and Folds are a concert match made in heaven, and I hope to catch them all again very soon.