Ben Arnold is a seasoned vet when it comes to performing at XPoNential Festival. This year was the local music man’s fouth appearance, but this time around things were a bit different. Thanks to the 48 Hour Orchestra, who joined Arnold on stage, his set today brought things to a new level. Together, the two sides brought life to Arnold’s 2016 record Lost Keys, an album that features much more brass than anything he’s put out in the past.
The full band was blaring from the get-go, with “Stupid Love” producing an intense decibel count. The high volume continued on the super fun “Cannonball.” That kind of collective and energetic effort was just what the River Stage needed to kick off day two. If Kississippi didn’t wake you up when they opened today’s festivities, Arnold and his band surely had to.
Next Arnold tried to get the crowd involved. “This was a tough song to write but a fun one to play,” he said of “Nobody’s Hurtin Like Me.” He asked the audience to sing along during the chorus, and they did so in hefty numbers. Arnold said it was time to channel their inner Earth, Wind & Fire on “When Love Fades Away,” and then the band brought out some Motown vibes with “Detroit People.” Arnold closed out the set with “The More Things Change,” a lovely tune that starts quiet with just he and his keyboard doing the work. But as expected, it rallied into another big band effort.
At some point in the middle of the set, Arnold took a moment to introduce those playing behind him. He mentioned that they aren’t able to get together to play often, but he loves when they do. Arnold is talented in his own right, and his track record proves that. But, man, adding horns and background singers to his usual band of drums, guitar and bass surely didn’t make for a lopsided equation. The sound was perfectly balanced, and it was a treat to be a witness to today’s full band rarity.
Nobody’s Hurtin Like Me
When Love Fades Away
The More Things Change