Singer/songwriter/pianist Ben Folds and NYC instrumental sextet yMusic played a sold out show at World Cafe Live on Tuesday night as part of Folds’ three-night Philly residency. From the start, it was clear that this performance would be something special. yMusic entered the stage first and set the tone for the show as they performed one of their original pieces, “Beautiful Mechanical.” yMusic, consisting of Gabriel Cabezas on cello, CJ Camarieri on horns, Nadia Siroti on viola, Alex Sopp on flute, Hideaki Aomori on clarinet and bass clarinet, and Rob Moose on violin, provided a wonderful accompaniment for Folds’ song arrangements that the audience knew and loved.
Touring in support of his forthcoming collaborative album with yMusic, Ben Folds and yMusic performed a set of pop-influenced orchestral arrangements of a couple new songs and many well-known songs off of his solo albums Way to Normal (2008), Songs for Silverman (2005), and Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001), along with Ben Folds Five’s The Sound of the Life of the Mind (2012) and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999), and yMusic’s Balance Problems (2014) and Beautiful Mechanical (2011).
In all respects, Folds is truly a great performer and musician. Throughout the show, he interacted with the audience by sharing stories, improvising songs, and conducting the crowd to sing along. Not only was he highly engaged with the audience, but Folds and yMusic’s musicianship was impeccable as they produced a sonically intricate and rich soundscape. It is clear that these musicians have been classically trained, and their collaborative efforts are a great way to expose a more complex musicality of classical chamber music to general audiences. Closing out the set, Ben Folds and yMusic performed a jazzy rendition of “You Don’t Know Me,” featuring duet vocals from Alex Sopp.
After receiving a roar of applause, Folds returned to the stage alone and performed “Landed” and “Don’t Change Your Plans.” After explaining that he didn’t want to repeat his encore sets in Philly, the crowd became extremely excited and people started yelling out multiple song requests. In response, Folds performed another hilarious improvised version of “Rock This Bitch” opening up with the lyrics “Do what you feel, play what you want to.” Midway through the song, he ran over to the drum set and began playing a riff as the members of yMusic returned to the stage to close out the night with fan favorites “Annie Waits” and “Army.”
The residency continues tonight at the Temple Performing Arts Center. Check out the setlist and photos of last night’s show in the gallery below.
Beautiful Mechanical (yMusic solo)
Long Way To Go
Not A Fan
I’m Not The Man
Mess (Ben Folds Five song)
Music In Circles (yMusic solo)
Erase Me (Ben Folds Five song)
Rock This Bitch (improvised song conducting the audience to chant the names of yMusic’s members)
Capable Of Anything
Steven’s Last Night In Town (Ben Folds Five song)
You Don’t Know Me
Landed (Ben Folds solo)
Don’t Change Your Plans (Ben Folds Five song, Ben Folds solo)
Rock This Bitch (Improvised song in response to people yelling out requests)
Army (Ben Folds Five song)