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Album: Ben Folds Live
Artist: Ben Folds
Label: Sony
Release: October 8, 2002
Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics

Track List

  1. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
    • washington, dc 6/12/02 9:30 club
  2. Zak and Sara
    • portland, me 6/10/02 the state theatre
  3. Silver Street
    • pontiac, mi 6/25/02 clutch cargo's
  4. Best Imitation of Myself
    • new york city, ny 6/13/02 roseland ballroom
  5. Not the Same
    • northampton, ma 6/7/02 calvin theatre
  6. Jane
    • washington, dc 6/12/02 9:30 club
  7. One Down
    • washington, dc 9:30 club
  8. Fred Jones part 2
    • with john mccrea, san francisco, ca 3/25/02
  9. Brick
    • new york city, ny 6/13/02 roseland ballroom
  10. Narcolepsy
    • new york city, ny 6/13/02 roseland ballroom
  11. Army
    • new york city, ny 6/13/02 roseland ballroom
  12. The Last Polka
    • pontiac, mi 6/25/02 clutch cargo's
  13. Tiny Dancer
    • newport, ri 7/6/02 newport music festival
  14. Rock this Bitch
    • chicago, il 3/2/02 vic theatre
  15. Philosophy (inc misirlou)
    • seattle, wa 3/20/02 moore theatre
  16. The Luckiest
    • lincoln, ne 6/23/02 rococo theatre
  17. Emaline
    • washington, dc 6/12/02 xm satellite radio performance facility

Bonus DVD:

  1. not the same
    • the calvin theatre, northampton, 7 june 2002
  2. philosophy
    • the avalon, boston, 8 june 2002
  3. army
    • the avalon, boston, 8 june 2002
  4. "album art antics"
    • the avalon, boston, 8 june 2002
  5. eddie walker
    • the avalon, boston, 8 june 2002
  6. the ascent of stan
    • the calvin theatre, northampton, 7 june 2002
  7. tiny dancer
    • the vic theatre, chicago, 28 june 2002
  8. song for the dumped
    • the vic theatre, chicago, 28 june 2002

CD/DVD Description:

The insert is checkered with pictures of Folds, his friends and family, and pictures of Ben performing. One side is black and white, the other two are in colour. The CD is black with "BEN FOLDS LIVE" written in red. It is writtenin the classic Ben Folds Five font featured on the album "Whatever and Ever Amen," and the "L" in "Live" is actually an upsidedown "F." The DVD is writtenin similar fashion, with a red background and black text. The track list is also written on it.

Pertinent Information on CD/DVD Insert:

recorded by Mark Chevalier
compiled and mixed by Marc Chevalier and Ben Folds
mastered by Ted Jenson at Sterling Sound

these recordings were made before live audiences during the "ben folds and a piano tour 2002"
across the United States of America and mixed at Marc's apartment.

a&r: Ben Goldman
a&r coordinator: Farra Mathews
project manager: Scott Carter
studio manager: Michelle LaBanca
John McCrea appears courtesy of Columbia Records
introduction by Dennis Elsas (WFUV, New York)

crew: Doug Goodman, Joe DeLorenzo, Marc Chevalier, Bill Katsouris
posse: Flemming McWilliams, Jane Hynes, Frally Gynes, Louis and Gracie Folds

package design: John Heiden for SMOG
photos: David Leves, Ben Folds, Frally Hynes, Steve Volpe

worldwide management: Alan Wolmark for CEC
cec crew: Debbie Tirone, Melissa Sabo, Peter Felstead, Julian Detakats
booking: Marsha Vlasic (North America)
Dave Chumbly (UK/Europe)
Marlene Tsuchii (Pacific Rim)
business: Jonas Goldstein at Tanton and Company
legal: Ken Anderson at Leob & leob

Ben uses Baldwin pianos, Universal Audio mic pre's and compressors and Shure microphones

thank (y'all) to family, friends, and fans

drop by www.benfolds.com
get stuffed at 1-888-BEN-FOLDS
www.epicrecords.com


A live CD. Another diabolical plan to get you to pay for stuff that you already have! Actually, if you are in possession of such a collection, I'd eat my Rockin' The Suburbs Fred Durstesque baseball cap. Though perhaps not as good in some's eyes as the studio-recorded releases, this record is a must-have for Ben Folds- or piano-enthusiasts.

Ben Folds Live is Mr. Folds's third solo release, and only his second after breaking up with The Five. Just under thirteen months after he released his upbeat rock gem, Rockin' The Suburbs, Folds has another treat for his fans. Recorded during his "Ben Folds and Piano" tour, which stretched much of last spring and summer, BFL contains classic Ben Folds Five songs, a dash of the new stuff, some witty improv, and even a cover song. It is reminiscent of Naked Baby Photos, but with less blab and, well, band. 'Tis just BEN and a PIANO. And he fills up that room very much with himself and his intrument of choice.

It started with all of the energy of his tour with the new band and the packed houses for his truly solo concerts. A live album was destined. Ben started the brainstorming for what should be on the album in spring 2002. He checked out one performance of his in depth to see what sounded good live. This was his benefit performance for 9/11 victims at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC in December 2001. If you were any part of the Folds community, you got this recording while the sounds of Ben's piano were still reverberating through the ballroom. So Ben asked a young fan of his in Adelaide to see if he could get a recording for him. He was successful and the plan took off.

Too many concerts to count later, we end up with a copy of Ben Folds Live in our hands. Neat, huh? An actually surprising thing with this album is its "Parental Advisory." Creepy. Even Rockin' The Suburbs had its share of "MOTHERFUCKER!!!" and didn't have to suffer the wrath of the PA. Some chains have decided to carry a "clean" version (what they cleaned, I know not) with an alternate appearance for the casing. Not quite sure who would be into buying that, but it does exist! The first pressing also comes with a DVD which is really cool, if you have a DVD player or something, that is.


Here are some breif reviews of the tracks, as I hear them:

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
The album opens up with a classic. Dennis Elsas of WFUV New York introduces Ben and the whole thing takes off. He plays the alternate solo, which is a little lower than the studio version and more all-around "messy." A very energy-filled performance ends with Ben playing the intro riff with an increasing tempo. It gets very...fast. Says the Ben: "Thank you!"

Zak and Sara
A pretty normal performance, nothing special or anything. Very nicely played, though. Tops off with a smash of the keyboard and a "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

Silver Street
This is such a beautiful song. It originally appeared on BFF's demo-ish CD The Beginnings. Silver Street, in my opinion, might be the very definition of a Folds song. Kind of mellow, it's a classic song of reflection. An amazing song to hear for the first time on BFL, and perhaps better to hear it again after The Beginnings. Perhaps the best song on the album. Ben nods to the audience "Thanks."

Best Imitation of Myself
I'm not quite sure why this song is on the record. Though it is a great song, they could have filled this space better. A nice listen live, nevertheless. Concluded with a "Thank you."

Not the Same
The introduction to this track is at the beginning of the last. Ben explains: "This is a true story, and I really don't know what it means, it's about this guy who we knew who climbed up a tree at a party on acid. And he stayed up in the tree, tripping all night long. And in the morning, everyone had gone home, he came down from the tree and he was born-again Christian. It's true. It's where religion and drugs meet back on the other side."

As for the song itself, it's an amazing version. Without a band, Ben just goes right into it, no intro. The song, which is really upbeat in the studio version and ususally on tour as well, seems very sullen. Ben improvs on the chords a lot, adding to this effect. The audience sings the back-up vocals for the pre-chorus, which is VERY haunting. It creates a very spooky vibe, which I like. It makes a good song even better. During the bridge, Ben's vocals take off and soar. It's beautiful and shows that man has A LOT of confidence in his voice. The ending gives off the most air of gloom. Ben just pounds sad-like chords while the audience does its thing. The audience actually sings its part three times after the song is over, divided by short (perhaps nervous) cracks of laughter.

Jane
A work of art and a major delight being on this album. Written during homestretch of Ben's career with BFF, this song rarely was performed live, at least to my knowledge. It is really nice to hear it without the synthy distractions of the album version. The lyrics and piano are clear and inspiring. One of the best tracks. "Thank you."

One Down
Another handsome track from Ben. Originally written for guitar, the piano version sounds far superior. The clever lyrics and flowing piano make this another great performance. "Thanks, y'all."

Fred Jones part 2
A masterpiece. One of the best tracks off of Ben's last offering, the stillness as the tones of the piano glide through the air is awe-inspiring. Always a somber favorite which paints vivid images in one's mind, this particular performance was augmented by a special guest. John McCrea appeared to sing with Ben, as he did in the studio version. Their voices intertwine perfectly and emit sonic pleasure. "John McCrea of Cake, y'all..."

Brick
Ben plays through about eight bars of Brick, his most famous song, and stops. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, that's not cool; stopping in the middle of the song." He takes this time to describe to origin of the song and explains that he just wants it to speak for itself. He goes on to play the wonderful Brick flawlessly. "Thank you. Thank you very much," Ben says, very satisfied.

Narcolepsy
Another song we did not hear much from on various tours. To compensate for the lack of a band (and an orchestra), Ben just beefs up the song with fatter chords and more emphasis on key notes. He pulls it off perfectly and the song goes off with out a hitch. An excellent track. "Thanks, y'all."

Army
A great version of this song here. Ben dedicates this song to those who served America in the Armed Forces. He tells how he considered it, but felt as if he were "genetically inclined" to be a musician.

Ben divides the audience up to perform the brass section that appears on the studio recording. "A bitchin' horns section," as he calls it. I believe that this was first attempted on a large scale at the Bowery Ballroom. So he divides half of the audience to be the saxaphones and half to be trumpets. After a quick ten second practice, he begins. He seems almost wanting to get past his part with the song and the piano solo quick so that the audience can have their part. They participate for forty seconds and sing the "God please spare me more rejection!" towards the finish.

Folds ends with the "I thought about your mommy" ending. Not the best ending, in my opinion. They played Letterman with that version. It tricked some of the audience, though. "Great singing, thanks!"

The Last Polka
A classic song with a masterful performance. The Last Polka is one of the most requested Ben Songs, and for good reason. Hands flying over the the keyboard, Ben sings his story with energy and feeling. There is not much more to say. Ben plays with some scales in improv at a point or two, but for the most part it's straight forward piano pounding. Always a great listen. "Thanks," be says, out of breath.

Tiny Dancer
The only cover song on this album, and the only cover song ever on a Folds album. Ben plays Tiny Dancer, by Elton John, beautifully and perfectly. A nice compliment to the rest of his work. Though clearly nothing Ben would write, he manages to pull it off very nicely. A nice breath of fresh air and another excellent track. "Thank you very much."

Rock This Bitch
This track starts out with the audience requesting songs. A very hyper man yells out "ROCK THIS BITCH! ROCK THIS BITCH!" a girl requests "Last Polka." Ben responds to the man "Rock This Bitch?!" half surprised, half amused. "Okay," he goes on, sounding partly disappointed, partly bored, and very casual.

The song starts out with some beautiful piano work, which surprises the audience. Then the lyrics kick in...

I'm gonna' rock this bitch.

I'll tell you what,
I'm gonna' rock this bitch.

I'm gonna' rock it,
Like no bitch has ever been rocked before.

I'll tell you what I'm gonna' do,
Iiiii'm gonna' rock this biiiiiitch.

I'm gonna' r-ah-ah-ah-ahhhh-ck this motherfucking bi-otch.

All of the above sung very smoothly. A terrific bit of improv, which reminds me a lot about Folds' "The Inherent Violence of Badminton."

Philosophy
Philosophy! Yeah. A jewl of Ben Folds (Five). Everybody always wants to hear philosophy. If not for the terrific music and impressive piano, but for Ben chucking his piano stool into the piano in the end. Sadly, one couldn't experience this even if he decided to do it this time. However, it's just as impressive.

Ben plays the intro and everybody squeals with glee. (GLEE, I tells ya'!) The rest of the song goes off fine per usual until the end. It is a rather extended ending. Very extended. Ben plays the usual riff before the normal Rhapsody in Blue ending, but it doesn't go that way quite yet. He keeps in the lower portion of the piano, pounding one note. He then does some "drumming" on the piano with his feet and hands. At this point, I am also pretty sure that he may be inside of his piano. He plays the strings of the piano from time to time. He then plays some chords, still messing with the strings. He ends up back in the lower most octave pounding keys. And then, what is this?! Riffs from Theme from Dr. Pyser! Sixty-fourth notes fly and Ben goes up and down the keyboard. He finishes this portion by breaking into "Misirlou." After this he plays the standard ending and everybody is happy.

The Luckiest
Not much to say here. Just a beautiful Folds song. Always a pleasure to hear. "Thank you. Stars..."

Emaline
This song begins at the end of "The Luckiest." Ben says, "Um, if anybody has a song they want to hear I'm happy to play it {Emaline!}, I don't really have any kind of set list--" The crowd laughs at the girl's interjection. "What's that?" The audience quiets down so that she may restate her request. "Emaline." "Okay, I'll try that." The audience continues to giggle.

The song itself is excellent. One of the best B-sides that Ben has. Nice lyrics and clear, crisp piano. A flawless performance to top the CD off. "Thanks y'all."


The album ends with the words "Um, anything else?" In all honesty, there could have--should have--been something else. There is a little under ten minutes more playing time for a CD where this record ends. It's a terrific bunch of songs, but they could have fit two or three more in. (Or maybe just "Selfless, Cold and Composed"...)

All in all, it's a great buy and a great listen. If you're into Folds stuff, piano stuff, and/or quality music, this is the disc for you.

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