On previous occasions American singer-songwriter Ben Folds with and without his band have played various Glasgow venues from the intimate settings of King Tuts to the World famous Barrowlands Ballroom (Barras) but tonight the talented classically trained musician accompanied by the Scottish Festival Orchestra plays the impressive confines of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

Folds was the front man of Ben Folds Five before going on to have a successful solo career. A critically acclaimed celebrity judge on NBC’s “The Sing Off,” Folds has earned a reputation as a singular and influential voice in the world of popular music. In addition to numerous albums and a recent reunion tour with Ben Folds Five, Folds has recorded multiple studio albums as well as records documenting his renowned live performances. Folds, serves on the Board of the Nashville Symphony and owns the famous RCA Studio A in Nashville where legendary music from all genres, including Grammy-winning symphony albums, have been recorded.

Flanked by the orchestra Ben Folds takes his place by the massive Steinway grand piano and welcomes his audience…..whoa!!!! he exclaims…welcome to the Barrowlands he jokes nervously…. The orchestra play the opening chords of Effington and the crowd cheer loudly as Folds starts to sing, he looks somewhat relieved but comfortable as if his natural place is at the front of an orchestra rather than a pop band. The Ben Folds Five song Smoke again receives a rapturous applause, which continues with Folds describing a stroll through Glasgow and introducing Jesusland. Audience participation is the theme of the night and continues right through till the end….Picture Window explains Ben Folds is a Bruce Hornsby composition and suggests to the audience that they cheer loudly so he can report back that the crowd loved it….again this continued through the set every tin Bruce Hornsby was mentioned!!!!!!!! Next was I imagined a nerve wracking moment as Ben serves up a three movement piano concerto to a mainly pop orientated audience but he needn’t to have worried as the crowd sat quiet and in place as the 30 min’sh composition was received and enjoyed by the audience….

What happened next was for the uninitiated completely bizarre as an audience member shouts “rock that bitch!” Not the audience being rude he explains to the orchestra…just a cue for some improvisation, he then proceeds to compose a piece from the ground up to the top based on a whisky label…. impressive stuff indeed!

The whole set comprises of anecdotes and audience participation as well as some fine fine music that spans his Ben Folds Five back catalogue as well as his own solo portfolio….orchestral versions od Gracie, Zac and Sara, One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Face to name a few, Folds oozes talent and confidence which makes for a thoroughly excellent (I must admit somewhat unexpected) and brilliant night.

Pix © Westy

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