Free at Noon Flashback: Ben Arnold and the 48 Hour Orchestra break through the clouds with soulful jams

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Ben Arnold | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

To kick off 2018 and the 13th year of WXPN’s Free at Noon concert series, long-time friend Ben Arnold, who is no stranger to World Cafe Live’s stage, performed a sleek and soulful set despite the abysmal weather currently inhabiting Philadelphia. Appearing in the Free at Noon series in its first year as a trio, the Philly-native returned with a backing band 10 members deep this time around. Dubbed “The 48 Hour Orchestra,” the band provided a spirited brass section, punchy drums assisted by congas, and heartfelt backing vocals to the set.

Bouncing back and forth between the keyboard and acoustic guitar, Arnold featured many new songs off his 2018 LP Sunday Morning Meltdown. 

Where Ben truly showed off his Philly-roots today, however, was in dedicating new track “I’ll See You There” to fallen Philadelphia firefighter Lt. Matthew LeTourneau and Engine 45. Admitting the band only learned the song this morning, Arnold and company jammed through this moving piece nonetheless, encouraging the crowd to clap and sing along. Featuring a false ending, stop-start breakdown jam session to end the song, it was clear the whole group put everything into the performance, as they did with each song.

From the first song of the set, the crowd was entranced by the full, live sound of the band’s performance, maybe even to the point where it didn’t matter the weather outside.

Sunday Morning Breakdown is available now through Victor Records. Ben Arnold’s next appearance in Philadelphia is January 18 as part of the latest David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket showcase at World Cafe Live. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

Setlist:
Sinister Direction
Driving to Find Jesus
Now Or Never
Only Human
The Bridge
I’ll See You There
Nobody’s Hurtin’ Like Me
Hellfire

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