Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Last Monday: Ben Folds and Kate Miller-Heidke

I was first introduced to Ben Folds when I was 16 years old and skeptical of all genres of music (despite a single soft spot for both Moby and Britney Spears). A musically savvy cousin introduced me to many artists, some of whom stuck and some of whom decidedly didn't (Led Zeppelin); Ben Folds Five fell into the former category.

Ben played (after the "Five" fell apart and he was merely Ben Folds...Live) at Princeton the week of my 20th birthday, and he played in New York the week of my 25th birthday. Do I luck out or what?

The best surprise of the night came not during Ben's portion but instead in the form of the opening act, Kate Miller-Heidke.
Her first tune, "Our Song," made my heart stop.

This Aussie is the real deal: a classically-trained singer, a great writer, blessed with the ability to alternate between soulfulness and rock. She's precisely the kind of funky bohemian girl you wish were your older sister, who would bestow upon you amazing hand-me-downs, and sneak you your first cigarette.

The best combination of her musical skills is exemplified in "Politics in Space," which, as she explained to the audience, expresses her "eternal regret at having been born too late for the 1960s." I hear that.

Kate said fans at a recent concert proclaimed that her husband-cum-guitarist Keir Nuttall (above left) looks like Chuckie from "The Rugrats."

(Keen observation.)

Kate had Keir take this picture of the audience (I am waving way up in the balcony).

Seriously adorable.

Then came Benny boy.
Most girls have at least one crush on someone who isn't their type, and Ben is that boy for me.
He slumps around in wrinkled t-shirts and jeans, sings about smoking pot enough to give you an idea of how he spends his free time, and has been married four times.
His voice is, well, atypical for a singer.
But he's enthusiastic, tells one hell of a good story, knows how to connect with people in an authentic way, and is a wonder on the piano.

He also has a great sense of humor. Here sets a Flat Stanley doll atop the piano, given to him by an audience member in tribute to his song "The Ascent of Stan."

During Ben's set, Kate returned to the stage to sub for Regina Spektor's in "You Don't Know Me":

Later, in a standard exhibition of his off-beat showmanship, Ben transitioned from piano to drums mid-song, while the drumset was still being assembled by a stagehand.

Over the course of many years, he hasn't lost the magic touch.
If you have the chance and you like their music, catch Ben and Kate on this tour before it ends!

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