Studio711

Ben Folds with the Seattle Symphony

I’m a huge Ben Folds fan. Sit at my piano and you’ll see the sheet music for all of his albums as I make a futile attempt to replicate his mastery. So you can imagine my excitement when Tyla told me she was getting me tickets for his October show as my birthday present! I knew I missed his April show but I had no idea he was coming back in October so it was a double surprise.

The show finally arrived on Tuesday and we headed to Benaroya Hall for the first time. The venue is gorgeous! We had a nice chat with a couple from work and unfortunately missed Matt and Laura who were also there. On top of that, JudyK from church was playing the flute for the symphony so it felt like we knew quite a few people at the show.

I went to a previous Ben Folds concert but it was the standard faire with piano, drums and guitar. I didn’t know what to expect with the full symphony playing in the background, but it’s like some of those songs were meant to be heard that way! The hall acoustics weren’t real conducive to having a singer on stage, but overall, it was awesome. It was a lot more structured than normal since he couldn’t change songs on the fly or mess with the set list. Plus, when have you ever heard Ben Folds sing without seeing him sitting behind a piano? He did just that for Not The Same. He played a lot of my favorites like Zak and Sara, Smoke, Ascent of Stan, Landed, Lullabye, Gracie, Cologne, Effington, Jesusland, Brick, Steven’s Last Night in Town, and One Angry Dwarf. After a one song encore with the symphony (Narcolepsy), he came back on stage alone and played Army, Rockin the Suburbs and made up a song on the fly about the Seattle Symphony.

I love hearing the stories behind the songs and I collected a few more that night. At one point he said that he knew it was impolite to talk about money but would anyway. “It costs about $7000-$10,000 to arrange a song for the symphony and we tried about 30 of them. So if you don’t hear your favorite song, just know that I paid $10K to try it and it sucked. How do you think I feel?” Honestly there were some songs that worked better than others. I wasn’t a big fan of the songs that had drums going in the background as it detracted from the symphonic feel. But he did say that it’s still a work in progress. He has had offers to do this for the last six years and resisted because he wasn’t sure it could be done right. Well congratulations sir, you pulled it off!

We didn’t have cameras at the event which probably isn’t terrible because it’s hard to capture anything good in that setting anyway. YouTube is already full of videos from the show. I’ve embedded a couple below but you can search for more.

As we walked out, I instituted a new life rule: never again shall I skip a Ben Folds concert when he comes to Seattle!

Side note: I love looking at Twitter after I go to an event like this. It’s full of people’s instant reactions along with photos and videos from where they were sitting.