Madison Gallup ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ben Folds came to the Royale to play his first show in Boston on his tour with yMusic and it was no average concert. Not a single person in the crowd knew the majority of the songs they would hear that night. This was only the third show on a relatively short tour that Folds embarked on to “promote” a new-currently-untitled-album made in collaboration with the orchestral group yMusic from New York. yMusic consists of six talented musicians using strings, woodwinds, and horns to create a really full and beautiful sound. This new album is not going to come out until September, so this tour was really more of a sneak preview than a promotion.
And what a sneak preview it was! The show’s setlist consisted of mostly songs from Folds’ unreleased album, and they were immediately connecting with the crowd. This is little wonder. A musician like Folds accompanied by the clear force of talent that is yMusic seemed guaranteed to create songs that would be instantly likeable.
Folds himself proved to be as witty and funny in person as he is within his song lyrics. Sometimes musicians stay too focused on playing through as many of their hits as possible, and do not bother to have a dialogue with the crowd. Folds bantered with the crowd throughout the whole show. At one point early on he mocked himself as he found himself unable to get the introduction right to a new song on the September album for the third show in a row. People from the crowd shouted out their encouragements and Folds praised them for their kind variety of heckling. This mingle of humor and immense respect for the musical craft helped define the vibe of the concert.
Even though this Boston audience would have been more than happy to hear only songs off the upcoming album, Folds understood that it would be something of a crime not to allow his audience to sing along with him to some of his most popular numbers as well. He began to weave them in with his new content just to keep the audience on their toes, and the very first notes of a familiar song were met with a lot of hooting and hollering. Folds played “Mess,” “Erase Me,” “Steven’s Last Night in Town,” “One Angry Dwarf,” and “Army” from his collection of songs he made with his band- Ben Folds 5. He also scattered in songs from his solo work, including “Not the Same” where he carried on his touring tradition of conducting the audience so that they could help create the song’s harmonies. It is kind of a religious experience mixed in with moments of Folds’ humor as he starts conducting more and more rapidly in parts just to mess with the crowd.
Folds has managed to masterfully craft music since 1995, and his 2015 album with yMusic is likely to continue to demonstrate what a talented man he is. If the songs sound half as good on the album as they did live on stage, Ben Folds fans are in for a real treat.