MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Ben Fold Five Goes “Live”

Ben Folds/Sony Music (2013)

Anyone else as glad as me to hear these guys together again?

Not that Ben Folds isn’t awesome on his own, because he is. But there’s just something about when Ben Folds Five come together with their synergy of pop, rock and jazz that sends me. That synergy doesn’t just come across in their records; it also makes for some amazing live performances. Happily for us, when BFF reunited and went on tour last year in support of their new release The Sound of the Life Of the Mind, they captured some of the best moments, and put them on a new record for our listening pleasure.

Never mind the relatively unimaginative title: if you’ve ever heard these guys perform live, you know that Ben Folds Five Live (releasing June 4) is one of those it’s-about-time records. Far more than just a recap of their last studio album, Live draws from fifteen decades’ worth of fan favorites (including some tunes drawn from Folds’ solo work), and the best cuts are selected from shows performed literally around the world: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Toronto, the UK, Australia and even Japan. Long on music and short on dialogue, the record is still filled with Folds’ characteristic tongue-in-cheek humor, not to mention some of the best damn piano playing you’ll hear anywhere. Listen for it in particular on cuts like “Uncle Walter” and “Do It Anyway.” Additionally, the improvisation on the “One Chord Blues/Billie’s Bounce” medley provides one of the album’s best moments.

Not much is going to surprise you on this album; that’s not really what live records are meant for, anyway. What you will get is a great set of live performances from the Ben Folds catalogue that will make you wish you had been there when they were being played. And if you ever get the chance to see Ben Folds Five play live—go. Did I mention they are great live?

4.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Featured, Rock Music


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