Ben Folds at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
The NYCB Theatre at Westbury
Wantagh, NY September 1, 2022
By Mike Perciaccante
Had Ben Folds not become a world-class musician, he’d surely have been a comedian. The singer-songwriter and composer, who is also the first artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, played a fun-filled solo concert at the intimate NYCB Theatre at Westbury on a pleasant Thursday evening at the beginning of September 2022. Folds’ performance was both musically satisfying as he played everything his fans could have wanted and more. Humor, stories as well as his music were forefront at this show. Folds made it a point to give contest to his life, his musical journey and his songs during his two-hour concert.
For the uninitiated, Folds first came to prominence as the front man and pianist of the alternative rock group Ben Folds Five. During its career, Ben Folds Five has released four studio albums and 2 live collections. The band achieved commercial success with the hits “Brick” from Whatever and Ever Amen (550 Records, 1997) and “Army” from the 1999 album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (550 Records/Caroline Records). As a solo artist, Folds has released three solo studio albums, numerous live albums and a number of compilations/best of albums. He has also collaborated with Nick Hornby, William Shatner, Regina Spektor, yMusic, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Neil Gaiman. He’s that eclectic.
Prior to the show, the small circular stage at the famed theatre in Westbury, NY was bathed it in hues of red and blue with a gold curtain as a backdrop. The stage was stark, featuring only Folds’ grand piano. During his performance, Folds was obviously in a very happy mood. He thanked the audience members for turning out, encouraged them to sing along, took the occasional request with aplomb, playfully kidded with audience members, played a few partial covers and did the occasional impression. It was magical.
Highlights from this fascinating evening included: the concert’s opener “So There” as well as “Annie Waits;” the short snippet of “Suspicious Minds” during which he gave his best Elvis impersonation; “You Don't Know Me” with the audience members handling Regina Spektor's vocal sections (the audience sang it again when Folds’ decided to make a video and send it to Spektor), the Ben Folds Five tune, “Evaporated;” a short snippet of “Purple Haze” performed as if it was a piano-based tune; an amazing version of “Rock This Bitch” with a Billy Joel riff that included Folds’ version of “Prelude/Angry Young Man;” “Jesusland” (from the 2005 Epic release, Songs For Silverman) and “Fred Jones Part 2.”
The main set also featured “Cigarette” and “Kate” originally released by the Ben Folds Five and ended with a rousing version of that band’s smash “Army.” The evening ended with an encore of the love song, “The Luckiest,” which was also the closing song on “Rockin’ The Suburbs” (Epic, 2001), his debut solo album.
This performance was special. It was an incredible show! The audience members laughed, cried, and loved every minute of it. A fun time was had by all. Of course, the long-time, die-hard fans would definitely be in attendance when he returns to Long Island, and it was obvious from the conversations overheard while exiting the venue, that Folds’ performance had expanded his fanbase.
Additional Article Contributions and Photo Credit: Christine Connallon