Ben Folds & the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall, 6/14/2014
Ben Folds grew up playing in symphony orchestras. Specifically, and perhaps surprisingly given his prowess on the piano, his background was that of a percussionist.
Saturday night, he returned to his roots with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, blending together upper-crust musicianship and instrumentation with the kind of informal atmosphere his concerts have become known for.
Unreservedly, he likened his own performance to a wet T-shirt night, shamelessly admitting that his objective was to put young butts in seats at Jones Hall.
"We need the symphony orchestra more than the symphony orchestra needs us," Folds said. "And if you need proof, go to any city in the country, or in the world, that doesn't have a proper symphony orchestra and check it out...that place is crap."
Raucous laughter and applause followed, having endured for most of the evening and barely pausing long enough for Folds and crew to even begin and end their songs. And members of the orchestra were laughing just as hard and loudly as the crowd.
Perhaps hitting a little too close to home for any Texans fans in attendance (cough), the night began with "Effington" as the choir sang, "If there is a God, he is laughing at us and our football team."
Folds later introduced "Picture Window" by acknowledging its cowriter, British novelist Nick Hornby, and even regaled the crowd with an anecdote about taking too much codeine in Berlin and the hilarious effects on his performance there.
Just before intermission, Folds and the symphony performed the second and third parts of a piano concerto he had written.
"I've been studying these things, and they're amazing pieces," Folds said of concertos, "but they're the only form of music I can find that have these compositional holes... But the holes are filled with 'Damn, I'm good.'"
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