Singer-songwriter Ben Folds (pictured) will perform with the Boston Pops, led by conductor Keith Lockhart at Symphony Hall, Friday October 2, 2009 at 8 p.m. The evening showcases Folds’ melodies and irony-laced lyrics with songs from his new recording, Way To Normal, his first studio LP since 2005’s Songs for Silverman. The concert will also feature many of his hits from previous albums, including some from his time fronting his band Ben Folds Five. Ben Folds last performed with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops on Opening Night at Pops on May 9, 2007.
Tickets for the performance range from $20 to $75 and go on-sale beginning on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Tickets may be purchased online at www.bostonpops.org beginning at 8:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. that day tickets may be purchased by phone through SymphonyCharge at 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200 or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office.
Ben Folds is best known as a solo artist and as the frontman and pianist of Ben Folds Five, celebrated for a compositional style and playing technique remain wholly unique, combining elements of the 'singer/songwriter' genre, jazz, and power rock. Indeed, Ben Folds’ music is evocative of artists such as Joe Jackson and Sir Elton John, with an added edge and bold infusion of energy and wit.
Whereas most alternative bands of the '90s specialized in distorted teen-angst rock, the guitarless trio Ben Folds Five was a refreshing break from the norm. In addition to Folds on piano and vocals, the group also included a bassist and a drummer and the outfit’s sound was more akin to power popsters, but like punk bands, Ben Folds Five put on a high energy, blistering live show, turning the band into a must-see live act. The band was signed to an independent record label, resulting in their self-titled debut one year later. Quite a buzz was stirring for the band by the time of their second album, which was issued through Epic. Released in 1997, Whatever and Ever Amen included the ballad "Brick" that broke the band commercially.
While 1998 didn't see a new studio album by the band, Ben Folds Five's former label issued a 16-track rarities collection (Naked Baby Photos), as Folds released his first solo album, Volume 1, under the pseudonym Fear of Pop. Ben Folds Five regrouped with 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which was a more mature work than its predecessors, although the energetic lead-off single, "Army," showed that Folds' humorous approach hadn't dulled at all.
Due to artistic differences, Ben Folds Five broke up in 2000, and the first Ben Folds solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs, was released in 2001, with Ben playing most of the instruments himself. The record went on to sell more than half a million records worldwide. A year later he released a live album, the aptly titled Ben Folds Live and in 2005, his critically acclaimed solo album Songs for Silverman was released, which featured the Adult Top 40 hit “Landed.” In 2006, Ben released supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp – a compilation of tracks from the internet-only EPs, B-sides, one song from Over the Hedge and his seminal crowd favorite – an inspired cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” – a bonafide hit that climbed to No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the No. 1 most-downloaded song in Europe in early 2007.
2008 saw the release of Ben’s next solo studio album Way to Normal featuring the hit duet with Regina Spektor “You Don’t Know Me.” In early 2009, he remixed and remastered the tracks, and together with a disc of stems to the songs so fans could do their own remixes, he put out the double disc Stems and Seeds. On April 28, 2009 Ben will release a collection of his songs sung a cappella. This record, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! features thirteen university a cappella groups from across the United States as well as 1 high school group. Not to be outdone by the undergraduates, Folds recorded two of his own a cappella tracks: instrument-free versions of “Effington” (from his 2008 album Way to Normal) and “Boxing,” which originally appeared on the 1995 self-titled Ben Folds Five album.
Consistently touring, Ben Folds has earned a reputation for his wit, musicality and charismatic, energetic live shows and for being a leader in youth-oriented worlds of developing technologies and trends. Ben was one of the earliest supporters of iTunes and received much attention for being one of the first artists to support and participate in Second Life, an internet-based virtual world. In 2006, Folds became the first artist to do a live performance webcast on Myspace.com. Now available as a DVD, Ben Folds Live at Myspace features “Bitches Ain’t Shit” as well as many other songs from Ben’s catalog. He also was the first artist chosen by Myspace in 2008 for their “Front to Back” program which asks artists to perform live one of that artist’s seminal albums in the same sequence as the original recording. For this Ben Folds reunited Ben Folds Five to their last album together, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, in their home state of North Carolina.