Ben Folds, Riviera Theatre, Chicago

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The Riviera Theatre and it’s attendees reveled in the night with Ben Folds and his piano.

Ben, looking sharp as ever, took the stage with poise and a shaggy beard and filled the air with the echoing beauty of his grand piano.

From the first touch of Ben’s band-aid covered fingers to the cold ivory the crowd stared in awe.  They sang along to every inch of every song.  They filled in melodies where there would normally be a band.  It was truly a different experience than your typical concert – all because of the lyrical genius Ben Folds.

The show kicked off with ‘Phone In A Pool’, ‘Annie Waits’, and ‘Uncle Walter’.  Ben gave the crowd a little back story about ‘Uncle Walter’ touting it was about a man he knew back from his hometown in South Carolina.  Ben created a perfect balance of rocking the piano, side comments, and turning ninety degrees to break into full story mode.

In between comedic comments and stories pertaining to songs ahead he managed to plank out a hefty eleven song set.  He had support from the opening band Tall Heights for ‘Still Fighting It’ and closed the set with an eager drum solo out of nowhere.

As I mentioned Ben jammed out eleven songs in his first half of the show.  I feel like some bands only play that many for a whole night.  The name of this tour is the Paper Airplane Request Tour and the reason is unique.  During the intermission Ben asked for all of the attendees to get paper from the back of the room and write down a song they wanted him to play from his catalog.  The fans eagerly complied and I watched as hundreds of people folded paper into planes.

As the intermission broke there was a big countdown and everyone from their seats started slinging the planes onto the stage form their seats.  It was an extraordinary to see.  Once the majority of the planes hit the stage Ben walked through and picked one up and started to play it.

He did this nine more times.  It is truly unique because every night, show after show, is different.  Yes you might hear some of the same songs, but the chances of them being in the same order are slim to none.  Ben closed the set once again only to reappear for his two song encore.  He closed the night with two Ben Folds Five hits ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces’ and ‘Army’.  Both songs are upbeat, full of crowd inducing energy and the whole room lit up for one last time before the night came to a end.

I grew up with Ben Folds music playing across my airwaves.  His voice and immaculate piano playing is something that is hard to find anywhere else.  His tour is still going strong with tons of dates.  Be sure to check them out here.  You can listen to the setlist I was graced with here.


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