Ben Folds Live – Birmingham Symphony Hall


‘What are you wearing to the gig?’ I asked my friend Jess. ‘Ummm…’ was the reply.
‘Are you dressing up?’ I asked.
‘Ummmm’ said Jess again. ‘I don’t know. What are you wearing?’
‘I don’t know’ I said. ‘Should we dress up?’
‘Oh God’ said Jess. ‘I don’t know. Maybe?’

This conversation went on in a circular fashion for about another half an hour. You see, we were both used to going to gigs in pubs. Gigs in clubs. Gigs in fields. Dirty gigs in the back room of a bar where we would have to move furniture out of the way to dance, or where we would have to wade through raw sewage if we wanted to use the toilets. But never a gig with an orchestra that had actual proper seating in a Symphony Hall. It felt like we should be wearing heels (why not? We’d be sitting down).

Going to this gig made me feel like a grown up.

Birmingham Symphony Hall is a beautiful concert space. It has great acoustics and is clearly built to provide maximum impact for classical/orchestral music. It is grand and plush and imposing. It has clean toilets. It was not designed to showcase one girl and her bassist playing intimate, dreamy folk rock. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we got.

Poor, poor Lera Lynn. As a support act I could see why she was chosen to go on the Ben Folds tour – her music was in a similar vein to some of his work so I can understand why the organisers thought that the audience might like her. Unfortunately, this was completely the wrong tour to be on. Her music got swallowed up by the space. What could have been hauntingly beautiful became, quite frankly, boring. It didn’t help that we had such comfortable seats. Quiet, dreamy music + velour chair + audience over 30 on a Monday night = sleepy time. Luckily, we had Ben Folds and yMusic to wake us up.

THIS is what the space was built for.

I am a huge fan of Ben Folds. He is creative and clever and funny and engaging and he isn’t afraid to be utterly geeky about the music that he loves. By re-working his songs to include the orchestra he added a totally new dimension which was such an incredible thing to witness live. At one point Ben started freestyling with things that the audience were shouting out (like ‘rock this bitch’) and he somehow composed an entire song around it. Live. Including all 7 members of the orchestra. How does he do it? It sounded incredible. Proof that Ben Folds is a genius.

I had a great time at the gig. It was like nothing that I had ever experienced before. It was weird to be siting down (but nice cause, you know, heels) and to be able to see the band was novel (I’m 5ft1). If anyone gets the opportunity to see this tour then I would urge them to do so.

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