I went with some friends to see Ben Folds play at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts this weekend. We were so excited to see him in concert and listened to his old albums non-stop for about a week. We found out a sad little detail Saturday afternoon, however, that put a slight damper on our concert experience. Folds came out with a new album, “Way to Normal,” very recently, which is only available to pre-order on iTunes as of now. We practically felt tricked into going to his concert!
We were pretty bummed when he informed the audience that he was going to play all of his new songs for the first hour of the concert, and save some of the oldies for the end. We made the most of our evening and enjoyed ourselves, however it really affected our experience because no one in the audience knew a single word to the first 12+ songs. Once he started up with his old stuff though, a wave of joy went through the audience.
I’m not a music critic, but as a huge Folds fan, I’ve got to say that he has failed to impress me with this new album. There are some great tracks, but for the most part, it sounds to me like it was hastily put together with only a goal of being witty and condescending in mind. Some songs are unique-sounding, one of which features one of my favorite singers, Regina Spektor.
Click here to listen to “You Don’t Know Me” By Folds feat. Spektor.
Folds has always been firmly tongue-in-cheek, but his humor felt a little bitter, almost a little mean when he played different versions of songs to “make a point.” We went to see Folds play, we didn’t go to hear his added complaints about the music industry or dry wit about rock concerts. He’s had a substantial influence in the music industry, and been a spokesperson for different messages in the media as a really low-key, unaffected celebrity.
When he plays, he plays so well, so it was a shame that it seems his fame may have gone to his head a bit. He didn’t seem particularly happy to be playing at UConn, and I definitely think many of his fans will be negatively affected by this new personality he is portraying.
Here are some interesting lyrics from one of the different versions of a new song called “The Frown Song (the fake version)”:
You look at the news
Always giving me the blues
War, death and chaos
All around me now
The media’s controlled
People do just what they’re told
Just wanna stand up
and yell “Is anybody out there?”
‘Cause it makes me frown
Yeah it makes me frown
It’s hard to find hope
But maybe we can learn to cope
By listening to one another
It’s a trust thing
‘Cause I know that you have fear
‘Cause you know the end is near
But just lend an ear
And we can make it happen
‘Cause it makes me frown
Makes everybody frown
I like this song and it’s message, but I think fellow old Folds’ fans will agree that his older, funny songs make for better listening and a better concert.