Concert Review: Ben Folds / Lindsey Kraft @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 09/30/2023
(TROY)–Singer and songwriter Ben Folds is a storyteller, a musician, but most of all a connector. He connects people with feelings, gives meaning to experiences, and, through his songwriting, joins entire concert halls in song. His concert at Troy Savings Music Hall on Saturday, September 30th, was no exception to this bridging through art.
Folds brought opening artist Lindsey Kraft, a young pianist whose Broadway-style songs had her relating her personal details of loves and disappointments to the audience. When she subsequently shared she was writing a musical (“love, me”), this made good sense to me. Although her chord progressions were predictable, as were some of her themes, her song “Beautiful Pain” about living with MS resonated with greater depth than many other songs, revealing an intelligence and wit that far exceeded her quirky (yet likable) stage presence. Folds joined Kraft on stage and humorously added to the gravity of one of her sad love songs by pounding on the keys, which brought paradoxical laughter from the crowd.
Folds opened his set without many words, which surprised me as he is well-known for his stories. After three songs, however, he turned amiably to the audience and chatted about teaching songwriting through the use of headlines. Frankly, his story associated with “Fragile,” which he derived from an article about someone burglarizing a home but being caught, and then the humorous “Kristine from the Seventh Grade,” derived from an opinion piece about refusing to remove shoes in a home with a no shoe policy, made me want to study songwriting with him. Funny, dark, and clearly delighting himself with lyrics as much as piano techniques, Folds’ music engages in a way that extends way beyond popular music.
My favorite song of the evening, “What Matters Most,” was preceded by a story of Folds cleaning out storage units that held years and years of objects. He slipped into this story that a dear friend of 30 years died while he was writing the song as well, shifting the direction of it. When Folds brought his hands forcefully to the keys, the room shook with the rage of loss and the grief of not valuing what we really should: what matters most.
Folds’ fans sang along with his songs, often without him, allowing him to harmonize on not only the chorus but also throughout more intricate bridges in songs. It was a unique audience, one that could sing on key and in rhythm with each other. As I looked around, I noticed there was a strong representation of late 20-something professionals, and I wondered how many studied music to produce on-pitch harmonies like that.
It was a satisfying evening of wit, musicality, and connection between musician and audience, and we left sated by the meaningful tales punctuated by unpredictable music, humor and alliance with one another built through Folds’ performance. His performance reminded us of what matters most: being human, and being together in our experiences.
- Winslow Gardens
- Annie Waits
- So There
- Kristine From the Seventh Grade
- Capable of Anything
- Sentimental Guy
- What Matters Most
- Don’t Change Your Plans (Ben Folds Five song)
- Still Fighting It
- Kate (Ben Folds Five song)
- You Don’t Know Me
- Not the Same
- Zak and Sara
- The Luckiest