Norfolk & Norwich Festival at Theatre Royal, Norwich
Saturday 19 May 2018
Reviewer Andrew F Smith
They say the only truth is art.
Well, that’s artists for you. Talk about blowing their own trumpet..
With Ben Folds though, you do actually begin to believe it. He writes and sings like an understated philosopher, or maybe a wise owl, surrounding the clear narrative with both intricate ‘classically trained’ piano runs and thumping Jerry Lee Lewis ivory and ebony abuse.
‘Boxing’s been good to me. Has boxing been good to you?’ A line from the song referring to Mohammed Ali. A waltz. Yes, that works. Clever multi-layered meanings.
How about the beautiful ‘Gracie’? A song that can’t help but move any young father to to near-tears.
The harsh description of the other customers at Denners(?) whilst as a child eating there with his dad. ‘They don’t give a fuck. Just as long as there’s enough for them’.
His words are good. His songs are weighty and light at the same time… a strange balance.
I do wish he wouldn’t bash the piano with forearm slams….my mum wouldn’t like that!
When did he last play in Norwich? 2000, he thinks.
‘No! It was 1997!’ The adoring audience knows better than him.
‘I hope you write down that he that he shouldn’t wait 20 years before he returns next time,’ a woman pats my arm, almost knocking the biro out of my hand. ‘We want him back sooner than that!’
The piano’s been good to him. Has he been good to the piano?
Oh yes, Mum. I think he has.
Andrew Smith May 2018
for Culture Shift