I was lucky enough to experience the magnificent Ben Folds performance at the Royal Theatre in Canberra this week, his first stop of his Australian ‘Lonely Avenue Tour’. Perhaps during such a hectic week of uni, taking the night off to go to a concert might not have been such a good idea, but let’s face it – it’s Ben Folds!!

But first, a lovely supporting set by Australian artist, Kate Miller-Heidke, who was wonderfully warm and engaging with the audience. It was an intimate set – just her, her guitarist, a keyboard and the audience. I was disappointed that her set was only half an hour long, but she thrilled the audience with her humorous take on Facebook friend-adding etiquette. Have a listen, I dare say it resonates with many a Facebooker!

When Ben Folds and his band walked onto the stage at 8.30 on the dot, they launched into ‘Levi Johnston’s Blues’, from his newest album, ‘Lonely Avenue’, written with UK author Nick Hornby. I couldn’t help but smile as he bashed the hell out of his piano – he literally stands in a lunge at the piano and bangs away at the keys – terrific to watch.

At first I was a little worried – the sound levels didn’t seem to be right, which meant it was hard to hear the lyrics (one of Folds’ major drawcards of his music!), but fortunately this was corrected soon after.

Because Ben Folds has been around for about 15 years (or maybe even more), I think a lot of the audience were hoping he wouldn’t be concentrating on playing songs from his newest album. For myself, it was his ‘Whatever and Ever Amen’ album that he did with Ben Folds Five in 1995 that I know and love the most, so it was to my delight that he played a couple of songs from that album – ‘Kate’ and ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces’.

The main appeal of Folds is his slightly-nerdy charm and wit. As he joked around with the audience and the rest of the band, he would break out into improvised musical numbers, showing off his years and years of training and performances.

Now this is the part that made me nearly cry with laughter: he explained that he and the band had made a pact to look at iTunes one day, and do a cover of whatever song happened to be number one at the time. It was Ke$ha’s ‘Sleazy’ – a truly awful song in my opinion, but hearing those lyrics sung by a talented man just made it so good. Have a listen:

After improvising again and spontaneously composing a song for Canberra – ‘We’re Gonna Rock This Bitch in Canberra’, he continued to play some requests shouted out from the audience, such as ‘Emaline’, ‘Gracie’, and ‘Landed’. ‘Gracie’ is a particularly cute song that shows off his ability to write such simple yet poignant lyrics.

(Couldn’t find an official clip of this, but it’s such a lovely song, I had to put something up!)

After the Encore, and a rendition of ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces’, he bounced the piano seat off the keys, bowed to a screaming, cheering crowd, and walked off, leaving everyone with happy grins on their faces as the lights came on.

Setlist: ( via setlist.fm)

  1. Levi Johnston’s Blues
  2. Doc Pomus
  3. Gone
  4. Belinda
  5. Sleazy (Kesha cover)
  6. Annie Waits
  7. Sentimental Guy
  8. You To Thank
  9. Effington
  10. Still Fighting It
  11. Bastard
  12. Picture Window
  13. Lullaby
  14. Rock This Bitch
  15. Emaline
  16. Gracie
  17. Landed
  18. Songs of Love
  19. From Above
  20. You Don’t Know Me (performed with Kate Miller Heidke)
  21. Kate
  22. Bitch Went Nuts
  23. Army
  24. Underground
  25. Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)
  26. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

Must note: I TRIED to take photos, but alas, my camera and phone are hopeless 😦