Ben Folds Five at Bristol Academy – 7/10
IT was a show that many loyal Ben Folds Five fans in Bristol thought might never happen. After more than a decade apart, the three original members of the band have reformed and are back on the road, with this gig in Bristol the first stop on their UK and Ireland sojourn.
Since going it alone, Folds has achieved a modicum of solo success, but he seemed far more confident with his old band behind him.
In case you don't know, there are not five of them either, just the three: Folds on piano and lead vocals, Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums.
So no guitarist, something that gives them their much-loved sound which in the late 1990s saw them become the soundtrack for the slacker generation, their most recognisable song Battle of Who Could Care Less troubling the UK singles chart at number 26 in 1997.
"I'd love for people to hear this record clean," says Folds of his band's new album The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind. "Like they never even heard of us before. If no one knew who we were and we put this record out, I think that would be terribly interesting."
Terribly interesting it certainly would be, but judging by the Bristol Academy audience, with a muted reaction to new songs and a reaction bordering on rapturous to old favourites, it was clear that most of the crowd here were fans of the band from the old days.
The opening half of the set was somewhat sedate, with an increase in tempo and energy only happening once the back catalogue was opened.
Then it was like a pressure valve had been released, with original hit Underground being sung loudly by the crowd, a mosh pit for Army to finish the main set and then an encore which was kicked off by Song For The Dumped.