Monday, December 01, 2008

Ben Folds @ Shepherd's Bush Empire 30/11/08

After an afternoon of cheese, beer and german board games, I was well prepared for a storming Ben Folds gig apart from being almost asleep. I was awoken by the drizzly night air of Shebu, a further two cleansing ales and a convivial chat with my gig companions and Anna From The Internet, who'd bought our spare ticket from a gumtree ad. She turned out to actually be from Adelaide, which combined with the number of aussies in my new office and in the Ben Folds crowd, gives me ample anecdotal evidence that rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated. The conviviality unfortunately meant we missed Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, who we didn't realise were supporting.

Ben was on good form, belting out virtuouso piano while behaving like the lovable prat he is. Forming a core trio with him were a tight, enthusiastic drummer and an incendiary bassist who is a dead ringer for the Chief from BSG. They were aided by a percussionist and also an odd-jobs musician who played a variety of weird and wonderful instruments. They played stuff from throughout Ben's career, ending with a cacophonous rendition of One Angry Dwarf which was played faster and faster in an attempt to make the Empire curfew. His music is definitely an acquired taste, but the gig's inspired me to acquire that taste for his more recent back catalog. To my great delight, he partially eschewed the ridiculous ceremony of encores, although there was a proper one at the end. One hopes this was only after they'd exhausted the planned set list and returned due to overwhelming popular demand, or just needed a rest. These are the ONLY circumstances under which I will tolerate encores.

(The following is in no way directed at Ben Folds, it's directed at every touring artist in generiam. I'm so mad I'm making up Latin.)

The ritualistic structuring of sets into obviously meticulously planned first encore, second encore and Wow Aren't You Lucky with often interminable waits is just shameless glory-whoring! Clap your hands if you're happy and you know it, you poor, pathetic saps. We're making sure the hookers are ready to snort coke off after you return to your miserable lives so bereft of our presence. It's even more insulting when you're at a venue with a strict curfew! Use the bloody time on stage! If, for some unfathomable reason, artiste, you desperately need a break after a terrible, seemingly unending hour and a half of bone breaking performance, announce it as that! "Ten minutes folks, take a leak and go to the bar." But bear in mind broken old bastards don't need these sissy breaks; it's just you, you snivelling work-shy wreck of vanity and misspent talent. And even though we're outdrinking you, we don't need no stinkin' piss breaks: that's what drum solos are for. We pay, you play. That's how it works.

I also fcuking HATE seetickets and all ticket agencies and people who work at ticket agencies and their families and their friends and their fcuking pets; their time will come.

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