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Ben Folds Five Rock the Showbox on February 4


In general we tend not to write previews of sold out shows. Given that tickets have already gone, it often seems pointless, unnecessary – and downright cruel. There’s no fun in reading about all the amazing things you’ll be missing.

Occasionally we make exceptions, however. The Ben Folds Five show at the Showbox at the Market on February 4 is one of them. Quite simply, this is a must-see show. Yes, it’s already sold out. Yes, the chances of you finding a ticket anywhere are ridiculously slim. But this is one show that you should beg, steal and borrow to see. And here’s why.

Anyone who’s seen the Ben Folds solo shows in recent years will tell you that he’s the consummate performer. It’s not just that he invariably plays all the hits you want to hear, or that he has far more of those hits than your average piano-playing indie rock star. It’s not even that those songs truly soar when played live, proving once again that recorded music is no substitute for the real thing. Those are all good reasons. But they’re not what makes Ben Folds truly special. For that, you simply have to watch him on stage, entrancing the audience with every note, segueing between songs with effortlessly witty banter. Folds is an entertainer, plain and simple. From the personal subject matter of some of his songs to his unconventional musical arrangements, he’s a true original.

If you’re still not convinced, there are two other great reasons to do everything you can to be at the Showbox on February 4. The first is the size of the venue itself – this is a small, intimate show by Folds’ usual standards. Unless you happen to live opposite his studio, you won’t have seen him this up close and personal in a long while. The second is the return of Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee, the remaining two members of Ben Folds Five (and yes, there are only three of them – write that one up to Folds’ adolescent sense of humor). While the trio have still occasionally played together, they haven’t toured since the band split in 2000, and their new album The Sound of the Life of the Mind is a joyous treat. Who knows when they might tour again. Consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Of course, if they don’t play ‘Brick’ then everyone will be walking out of the Showbox fuming with disappointment. But I’m sure they know better than than. In Folds we trust.