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Story and photos by Jeff PurcellBen Folds and his band opened the show at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater Friday night with a frantic clown car fire drill in what Ben called "crazy time" but they soon settled in to tunes from Fold's new album Lonely Avenue. The album is a collaboration with novelist Nick Hornsby. The songs continue in the Folds' tradition of character studies of fictional and real life characters and he calls them out by name, Levi, Elvis, Annie, Saskia, Belinda and Cindy. Flawed figures they may be but Folds' voice brings a sympathetic view of them.
Folds paced the show with upbeat numbers and slower ballads mixed in a pleasing tempo. The slower pieces tender and gentle, the quicker ones energetic and exuberant. His rhythmic piano style under scored but hard hitting drums and an additional percussionist, he pounded out the songs and stood up and attacked the piano as much as played it.
No Ben Folds show is complete with out an audience participation segment and some sing along. Folds conducted the audience like his personal symphony. He seems to truly love this interaction with the crowd and the audience gives it back with true joy.
Street Corner Symphony from NBC's The Sing Off, on which Folds was a judge, opened the show with their a cappella renditions of Tears for Fears, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Radiohead and the Beatles. Their set was well received and entertaining.
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