As with most L.A. venues, we have a place in the Wiltern that is perfect for me to see. I've done the stand-up-against-the-stage thing several times, but outside of the Troubadour most of them are so high that I get a neck cramp. So, we got in line early enough to make it to the railing on the level that is just above the pit and on Ben's side of the stage. Very important as we love to watch his hands perform their mad piano skillz. Give me all of the reasons you don't like him from his whiny voice to his pop-song lyrics, but you must admit he has talent on the piano. Or not. Whatever.
The concert was pretty amped up compared to the scaled-down shows Ben's being doing for the past several years. There were lights, some video projection, and two backup musicians besides the drummer and bass player. They opened big with "Way To Normal," which is not on his new album Way To Normal. You see, Ben recorded a fake version of his latest project and leaked it to the internet before the real album was released. They actually performed both incarnations of many of the songs that were recorded twice. He explained as they went along, so the crowd was not too confused. I actually knew the unofficial tunes more than the official ones!
More photos here.
I did wear the Ben Folds Five shirt I got at that first show. It's a little worn, but something I treasure. Several people commented on it and quite a few kids who were about the same age as the tee were part of the audience too. E and I observed that the demographic of his concerts has changed. We were 25 and 28 for those first few shows. The rest of the crowd was about 25-28 as well. Ben was around 28 or 29. We're 38 and 41 now. Ben's 42. The crowd is now around 20-25. Where was everyone our age? A lot of people our age do talk about how they just can't stand going to concerts anymore. (This does not include Nanette!) Well, I still love them and will continue to go. Sadly, several of my favorites don't come West often.
Ben Folds. He once described his former band's music as "punk rock for sissies." I'll be the first to admit that I am a sissy, so maybe that's why I love him so. His songs tell stories that are funny, sad, bittersweet, sometimes all at once. And sure, I am a bit taken with the Southern drawl. You might just say my redneck past is nipping at my heels.