Ben Folds, formerly of Ben Folds Five, performed Friday night at City Market in Kansas City, Mo. The near sell-out crowd put up with 90-degree temperatures to sing along with every word Folds sang.
For nearly two hours, Folds surveyed the catalog of songs he recorded with his band while repeatedly returning to material from his current release, "Rockin' The Suburbs," his solo debut.
Folds is a skillful and inventive pianist and a gifted singer. But at the heart of things, Folds is a songwriter of a high order. A clever wordsmith, he still knows when to leave emotions laid bare.
After opening with "Eddie Walker," Folds performed "Zak and Sara," "Annie Waits" and "The Luckiest" before returning to chestnuts like "Where's Summer B.?" and "The Last Polka."
Before performing "The Luckiest," he explained that he normally doesn't perform the song so early in the show, but since the tour was being recorded for a live album, he was doing so because later on he'd be sounding too much like Tom Waits.
Folds told the tale of a lingering contractual obligation to render "4.61" more songs to satisfy his publishing company and how the songs, which he never intended to actually perform, had begun to give him enjoyment.
Of these, he performed "The Secret Life of Morgan Davis," a show tune-styled opus about a bored broker who takes to sneaking out on his wife at night to sell crack, and the self-explanatory "One Down, 3.6 To Go."
One of the highlights was the last song of his encore, the popular "Song For The Dumped," with its refrain of "give me my money back, you b----," previously a rocker now made more humorous by Fold's recasting it as a somber ballad.