Last night we went to First Avenue (yes, that’s where Prince performed in the movie Purple Rain) to see Ben Folds, with support from Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy. It was an excellent show, quite unusual as they both played solo – Hannon on guitar and Ben Folds with his piano, of course. I’ve seen both of them several times and it was good to hear the music performed differently.
The Divine Comedy’s music is often quite big and orchestral – once when I saw them they had a 50 piece orchestra on stage with the band which was really exciting – but I like when you get more from a concert than just hearing their latest CD played loudly. DC were always good when it was just the six piece band, they’re excellent musicians and I enjoyed the arrangements. His songs worked surprisingly well on just guitar, and it can’t have been easy for him to do the solo performance in front of a crowd who probably don’t know any of the songs – they haven’t really made an impact on the USA yet. However I think the audience last night got with him pretty well, and seemed to enjoy his charisma.
The first two Ben Folds Five CDs had little more than just the three-piece band playing, so seeing them live was as I said above – like the CD turned up loud, although they were lots of fun between songs, and would make things up on the spot too. So it was interesting to see him on his own, and to hear the songs without a backing band. Mostly they held up pretty well, and he’s just a good performer.
One thing though, and excuse me if I sound old and cranky, but why do people shell out for concert tickets, actually bother to go to the venue, and then stand around talking and not even facing the stage? Especially for a solo concert like last night’s where there’s not a band making lots of noise, most people were fairly quiet but around us were folks yammering away. Grrr.