our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
It's been over
two years now since Ben Folds Five broke up; a year ago the leading
splinter of the shattered band, Mr. Ben Folds himself released
his first album as a solo artist. It was a damn good show of talent,
and even made a show at number six in our top
ten albums of 2001. Immediately following the release of Rockin'
the Suburbs, Folds embarked on a solo tour with a full backing
band. It was sort of like Ben Folds five with a different "five,"
but it was a great tour (review).
This tour was then followed by another tour, this time of simply
Ben Folds and a piano.
the history of Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five, there has never been
a live album released (apart from their Sessions DVD).
This is quite surprising since most fans will tell you there's
nothing quite like a Ben Folds live show; and for the most part
that's true. So, it's damned exciting that finally there's
a live release.
from the Ben Folds and a Piano tour, Ben Folds Live is
unfortunately not the spectacle one would hope for. True, Ben
Folds is a stellar pianist and showcases his talents thoroughly
throughout the disc, but the big problem here is that the majority
of these songs were written for a band, not for a solo piano.
For the most part, there seems to be something missing here. Holes
are holes, and while Folds does his best to fill them, sometimes
the songs seem a bit empty.
But it's not
all bad either. Fans of Folds will be delighted by the new arrangements
of some of their old favorites, including "Best Imitation
of Myself" and "The Last Polka," as well as newer
songs like "Jane" and "The Luckiest." The
addition of a stunning version of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer,"
the b-sides of "One Down" and "Emaline" and
the previously unreleased "Silver Street," make the
disc all the merrier.
Yet, as previously
mentioned, there are the problems. "Army" seems clever
at first, with Folds directing the crowd to sing the song's missing
horn parts, but really it's just annoying. And "Rock This
Bitch"? It hardly rocks with Folds and his piano alone, but
then again maybe that's the whole point.
treasure here, however, is the included DVD sporting about 30
minutes of live concert footage. Actually watching Folds do his
thing does give the music a bit more credence, and makes
the CD much more enjoyable upon later listens.
Ben Folds fans will eat this disc up. Unfortunately it seems more
as a grasp at fleeting fame than anything else. Nostalgia is nice,
but cashing in on past popularity is another thing.
liked Ben Folds Live...
1. One Angry Dwarf
and 200 Solemn Faces
2. Zak And Sara
3. Silver Street
4. Best Imitation of Myself
5. Not The Same
7. one down
8. Fred Jones Part 2
12. The Last Polka
13. Tiny Dancer
14. Rock This Bitch
16. The Luckiest