Ben, oh Ben…
To be honest I wasn’t expecting much Friday night on my way to see Ben Folds Five at the Pearl inside the Palms. I even got lost on my way to find my seat, but eventually opening act Nataly Dawn’s wispy voice guided me (along with a bartender and an usher) to my destination.
Once settled I had time to really look at the young songstress for the first time. It was like I was staring at Vegas’ own sexy version of Tinkerbell, with her platinum blonde pixie cut, sparkly green dress and boots. Oh and I was enthralled by the fact that she had an upright bass player in her trio, because I just happen to be a sucker for both.
After the second song it was apparent Dawn had an unusual essence about her voice. A weary, lightness, with tones of raspy instability. It was as if she could lose it at any second. The performance was solid, but when I looked around at the other members of the band I was distracted by all the plaid. Plaid is overplayed and overrated. Get some new shirts boys.
All in all the opening act was short, sweet and to the point performing a quick 29 minute set. Nataly Dawn and company did the job of an opener. Nothing too impressive, but just enough to give you a taste in preparation for the main course.
Then they walked on stage. Ben oh Ben. Let’s just get one thing straight. Don’t be deceived by the name Ben Folds Five. This alternative band is a three-piece outfit consisting of Darren Jessee rocking it on the drums, Robert Sledge on bass and of course the unforgettable Ben Folds on piano dubbed Ben Folds Five, because “it’s catchier than Ben Folds Three.”
Where do you begin with a man as talented as he? I guess you could start by saying he’s a madmen on the keys. Seriously a madman. Forcing one to pose the question: Is it possible to look like a badass while playing the piano? The answer: Yes, if your Folds you can. The way he slams away on the keys and spontaneously leaps from his chair playing in a full lunge could make any guy idolize him and any girl swoon.
How lucky are we though Las Vegas? The “Luckiest.” Ben Folds Five is touring for the first time in 12 years and the last time they made a stop in Vegas was 1999, when this CollectiveZoo reporter was just 10 years old. Far before my Ben Folds’ days.
I’m happy to say this was the first time I’d seen chairs on the floor leaving little room for dancing, but by their last song everyone was standing. Each song brought high energy and Fold’s powerful voice carried strongly through each song. Drummer Jessee effortlessly hit every note while bass player Sledge showed us his softer side with intimate moments on his upright bass.
In the opinion of this writer the show had it all. Kick ass piano instrumentals, upright bass (have I mentioned this enough?) and even a free styled song in German midway through the show. All I can say is if you missed out, I’m sorry because like Folds said they might not be back until 2024. The bright side: at least you got to read about it?
By Lauren Stevens
Ex-Intern turned Writer-at-Large