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Review: Just Ben Folds, a piano, and a captivated Canterbury audience

Ben Folds and a Piano

The Marlowe

Sitting alone centre stage armed with only two guitars and cheerful chatter, the support, Matt Holubowski, quickly set the tone for the evening.

The Canadian charmed the audience by declaring "I fell in love with you before I met you".

Musician Ben Folds
Musician Ben Folds

He told of how people would ask him how come he was so happy when he writes such sad songs.

However, it wasn't immediately obvious that his songs were sad as the words were at times a little unclear but the pleasure of the range of his voice and his skill on the instrument made the subject of each song matter little.

And such was his impact that one audience member was spotted sneakily looking him up on Spotify before his set had even finished.

His last song was a To Ramona cover, which he introduced by telling everyone it was by Robert Zimmerman, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. Fortunately, the audience were comfortably in on the joke.

And with the removal of Holubowski's equipment, just a Steinway grand piano stood waiting for the man of the evening.

Ben Folds took to the stage with a cheery smile and was quick to take advantage of the audience's enthusiasm.

And everyone there can now say they've performed with their music hero as he encouraged them all to take vocal parts to accompany him on three songs, leaping to his feet to conduct them in the final moments.

Anecdote after anecdote helped immerse the crowd into the storytelling woven throughout his work as Folds' good humour kept the laughs coming, before his mastery of the instrument and signature lyrical gymnastics silenced them into rapt attention once again.

Briefly, he was not alone with the piano.

At the end of one song, a stagehand appeared with a drum, handing over a pair of drumsticks.

With Folds beginning to beat a rhythm on the drum, the pair raced across the stage to an empty area, where a full kit was swiftly and surprisingly built around him and a furiously-pounding solo took place.

A shout-out from the crowd inspired him to create a hilarious song about Canterbury on the spot, perfectly demonstrating his talents as a natural songwriter deftly able to entertain so many over his 30-year career.

As he left the stage with the entire audience on their feet and cheering, the mournful song All By Myself accompanied him.

But if that's the kind of show he can put on alone, it really doesn't feel like anyone else is needed.

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