“It’s Good to be Home”
I sprinted the whole way from work to Memorial Hall. Of course I had a ticket and my seat was reserved blablabla, but at one of the most highly anticipated concerts in Chapel Hill this century, I felt the need to arrive early and assert the fact that “YES! That is my set in Row H!!”
Ben Folds Five has NOT been a band since 2000, almost ten years, and when it was announced that they would be performing for one night only (like the Blues Brothers) in Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill lit up like a Christmas tree.
I took a little time before the concert started to take a stage inventory. On that lovely stage were two pianos, a full percussion section, a double bass, keyboards, guitars, some electronic stuff that confused me; essentially, a full rock and roll orchestra.
The house lights dimmed and the opener, Hotel Lights, former Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee’s band, took the stage before the nearly apoplectic BFF fans. He reminded me of a more reserved, American, Glen Hansard. The first song was really lovely, but it’s one of the most sombre, sleepy opening tunes I have EVER heard. Jessee played a guitar with a polished black and yellow finish. His bandmate played a small, sincere piano to match Jessee’s honest vocals, low and slow, and hard core singer/songwriter. The duo was right up my musical ally, but this review is about Ben Folds Five, so let’s get back to that.
When Ben Folds Five finally took the stage around 9:00, one of the guys I was with let out a barbaric yawp. I looked at the girls behind us and they were truly frightened, but those concerned expressions cleared their faces as soon as Ben sat down at his Baldwin. It was like Memorial Hall was just one huge highschool and Ben Folds was homecoming king.
Ben Folds rubbed his hands, pushed up his glasses, and they were off.
Narcolepsy was an explosive opening tune, in sharp contrast to Hotel Lights, and every single person in the auditorium was on their feet. The trio only got more comfortable and energetic as they moved from Narcolepsy to “Don’t Change Your Plans.” Especially when this horn section appeared mysteriously from offstage to play the bridge.
Now, I’m a music major, and I’m in Memorial Hall a lot for required concerts, and usually this is a reserved crowd. Thursday night was completely different. If there was such a thing as continuous eruption, this crowd would define it. I have never heard a venue so formal get so loud. We were all still yelling and clapping ten minutes after the fabulous Five left the stage
I only really have two complaints about this concert.
1) They DIDN’T PLAY BRICK…OR KATE!!!! That’s just poor form. They know we love those songs and if you’re not going to play them in your big reunion concert, then when else will you?
2) Because the concert was being videotaped, Ben could not really interact with the audience as he is famous for doing in other concerts. Eventually, he just got over the fact that this even was being taped, and told us stories about how much Ben Folds Five once sucked. And yes…he did throw a bench at his piano at the end.
I think Ben Folds Five were honestly glad to be back in their hometown, in front of their biggest fans, playing together like it was 1997. We all cheered as Ben sand the lyrics to Your Redneck Past, “It’s good to be home.”
Guys, it was good to have you back.
2. Don’t Change Your Plans
6. Your Redneck Past
7. Most Valuable Possession
8. No Regrets
1. Jackson Cannery
2. Eddie Walker
3. Selfless, Cold, and Composed
4. The Battle of Who Could Care Less
5. Summer Beat
7. Song for the Dumped