Ben Folds Five @ Central Park Summerstage 9/14/2012
Coming into Friday night's Ben Folds Five show at Rumsey Playfield (9/14), I carried none of the usual trepidation that surrounds reunion shows. Armed with how impeccably they pulled off their "MySpace Front-To-Back" performance of 1999's moody swan song The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner four years ago - the band's first performance since parting ways in 2000 - I knew this was going to be a memorable night.
Friday night brought back all the best possible memories of seeing these guys five times between 1997 and 1998: from raucous, hot, sweaty club shows in Dallas and Austin to memorably driving from Fort Worth to Houston in the rain with broken windshield wipers wondering if drummer Darren Jessee had followed through with a promise to put my friend and me on the guest list for their sold-out show. (He did.) And then, after the show, they all signed my vinyl copy of Whatever and Ever Amen. It's this kind of nostalgia that's in jeopardy when bands long dormant decide to get back together.
But Ben Folds, Jessee and Robert Sledge ("On the bass guitar!") harmonize as well now as they did during those shows 15 years ago. It was not only exciting to hear songs like "Theme from 'Dr. Pyser'" and "Alice Childress" (one of my favorite songs in their catalog) but to hear them performed so perfectly.
They played for an hour and 45 minutes sprinkling in songs from their new record, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, (out this week) among the familiar ones the crowd came to sing along to such as "Battle of Who Could Care Less" and "Song for the Dumped." And, of course, they played "Brick," their biggest hit. (Personally, I was hoping "Missing the War" and "Fair" would have made it into the set but that's quibbling. Perhaps when they come back next month for Comic Con.)
The night ended in classic Ben Folds Five fashion as Folds fired his piano stool from distance striking the Baldwin right on the keys to end set-closer "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces."
More pictures from Ben Folds Five's Summerstage performance, along with the setlist and pics of opener Kate Miller Heidke, are below. Also below is BF5's new video for "Do it Anyway" that features help from Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock.
Kate Miller Heidke
Ben Folds Five
Setlist: Ben Folds Five @ Central Park Summerstage 9/14/2012
Michael Praytor, Five Years Later
Theme From Dr. Pyser
Selfless, Cold and Composed
Battle of Who Could Care Less
The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind
Do It Anyway
Song for the Dumped
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
Ben Folds Five - "Do It Anyway" (Official Video)