It was around this time back in 1997 that I first heard Ben Folds Five. Thanks to 120 Minutes airing the "Battle Of Who Could Care Less" video, I would soon fall in love with the music made by Mr. Ben, Darren, and Robert. Whatever and Ever Amen was a major part of my soundtrack for the rest of my senior year, as their self-titled record became in my sophomore year of college, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner would a few years later.
Enjoying the hell out of Ben's first two solo albums, but losing interest after Way to Normal, I always hoped I could see Ben live, either with the Five or solo. For whatever reasons, I kept missing my chance. Again and again. (Maybe his music has meant so much to me that I didn't want to share it in a room of "Whoo"s. I'm not sure.)
Thankfully, that chance finally occurred on Friday night at Bass Hall in Fort Worth.
Coming off the joy of seeing the Beach Boys on the previous night, I expected things to be enjoyable, but I wasn't expecting to get misty-eyed a handful of times. The experience of seeing him live with a full orchestra, playing great song after great song, and keeping things spontaneous.
Ben's the best kind of dork -- he's funny when he wants to be funny, and he can be serious when he wants to be. So when he wanted the audience to sing along to "Not the Same," I gladly did. When he wanted the audience to clap along to "Annie Waits," I partook. When he played songs like "Brick" and "Landed," I sat and enjoyed in silence.
Certainly helped that the whole crowd was passionately involved with the performance. Every song ended in the kind of applause usually suited for an encore. And there were two encores: one with the orchestra (complete with an impromptu version of "Rock This Bitch") and one alone with him and the piano. Ending with "Rockin' the Suburbs," I got my fill, as did the crowd.
Not to brag, but this show, along with a handful of other shows, are all fighting for spots in my favorite concerts of the year honors. Shall be tough once November comes around.
Until then, I can now safely say that I've seen another one of my all-time favorite artists live. Now to see about seeing Springsteen . . .