The crowds were definitely out in full force last Thursday night as a line that stretched well beyond The Soundpony and around the corner before the doors opened at ‘The Ole 423’ (Cain’s Ballroom) for a good reason: Ben Folds was in town. The concert was originally scheduled for February but was rescheduled due to the snowstorms that hit Tulsa during January. Those that kept their tickets and packed a sold out Cain’s were treated to a one-of-kind experience that could only be brought to you by Ben Folds and company.
Upon the doors opening the ballroom quickly started to fill up as everyone awaited the arrival of the opener, Kenton Chen. Kenton was known best from the founding of his group “The Backbeats” which gained notoriety after becoming finalists on the second season of the NBC show “The Sing-Off”. He opened with a cover of Britney Spear’s song “Toxic” and shortly thereafter moved into singing three other songs of his solo album which was just recently released on Itunes. After thanking the crowd, he shortly left the stage to greet fans at the back of the venue.
After a short break and a few last minute instrument preparations, the house lights went dark and the entire ballroom broke into cheer as Benjamin Scott “Ben” Folds sat down in front of his piano and immediately broke into “Levi Johnston’s Blues” from his current album “Lonely Avenue”. Those who knew the words sang them loud and proud but one thing was for certain: not a person in the room was standing still. Ben’s crowd interaction is second to none going to the crowd for requests from time to time and even acknowledging local musical celebrities “Hanson” in one of his songs who also were also in attendance.
Ben Folds gift is his ability to engage the audience with conversation in between songs even going into great detail about how and why he wrote some of his songs. Before covering Ke$ha’s song “Sleazy” he explained that he originally set out to cover the current song that topping the charts. He never thought he would actually have to cover something so far out of his element but he really brought out the best of a bad song. After blazing through such hits as “Effington” and “Brick” one of the true highlights of the night was when Ben played “Zak and Sara” launching everyone into a frenzy.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
As the end of the show neared, Ben continued to tear through songs from his arsenal of the many albums he has released over the years including tracks from albums he recorded while he was in “Ben Folds Five” before he went solo. Before leaving the stage all who were present were treated to a sing-along led by Folds. Prior to playing “Army”, the rules and words were laid out to each side of the audience as to which words to sing and when. What happened next was five minutes of pure joy as everyone continued to sing along until he bowed himself off stage to darkness.
After a few moments of chanting “Bring Ben Back” he returned to the stage to play two tracks to which the crowd responded by continuing to belt out the words to “Underground” and “Philosophy” before thanking everyone and left the stage. If you missed the show, you really missed a unique experience as all Ben Folds shows are tailored to the crowd and the requests that are made. Cain’s continues to bring quality artists to Tulsa and as long as the artists keep coming, we expect the sellouts will follow.