Gig review: The Ben Folds Orchestral Experience, Glasgow

Folds and the Scottish Festival Orchestra were admirably in tune at the Royal Concert Hall. Picture: TSPL

Folds and the Scottish Festival Orchestra were admirably in tune at the Royal Concert Hall. Picture: TSPL

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“IT’S good to be back at the Barrowlands!” Bespectacled showman Ben Folds was on typically droll form on the last date of his current tour, during which he’s married his estimable songbook to orchestras from around the UK.

The Ben Folds Orchestral Experience - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

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Despite having met them for the first time that day, Folds was admirably in tune with the Scottish Festival Orchestra, who more than met the intricate demands of his Steinway-bashing and occasionally 
ad-libbed performance.

The centrepiece of act one was a lengthy instrumental concerto in three movements. “It’s not particularly lucrative,” shrugged Folds, who, as one of our greatest living pop songwriters, realised he was perhaps asking a lot of his audience. He needn’t have worried. This intense, melodic, galloping piece – with its snatches of jazz, boogie-woogie, European baroque and Gershwin-esque, Hollywood sumptuousness – was greeted with a deserved ovation.

The second act focused on the crowd-pleasing hits, such as Brick and Gracie, a touching, funny ode to his daughter (a talented songwriter herself, judging from the recording he played via his phone).

It also featured moments where he transformed the audience into a conductor-led choir, plus a delightfully improvised song with lyrics lifted from a whisky bottle label which offered a fascinating insight into the creative process of these world-class musicians.

Capped by a heartfelt speech from Folds on the importance of supporting your local orchestra, it was the smile-inducing soul of a magical evening.

Seen on 12.07.14

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