Selected by Dan Grunebaum

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First solo tour

Piano tunesmith and singer-songwriter Ben Folds brings his maiden solo tour to Tokyo, following the breakup of his band, the Ben Folds Five. But don' be fooled. The Ben Folds Five were never more than a trio, and his touring band is a three-piece as well. Do, however, look for Folds to play plenty of material off his ambitious new solo release, Rockin' the Suburbs (see CD reviews).

Formed by Folds in his native city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1994, the Ben Folds were always something of an anomaly in the rock universe. Probably the only band of any consequence without a guitarist, they relied instead on Folds' driving piano licks, which came just about as close to Jimi Hendrix as anyone on any instrument ever has.

"The one thing I knew when I started out was that I didn't want to be the singer-songwriter at the piano," he is quoted as saying on Yahoo! Music. "Everybody wants you to be like Billy Joel or Elton John or somebody, and that just doesn't interest me."

The Ben Folds Five scored an immediate success with their self-titled debut album for Caroline Records in 1995, an album that showcased Folds' inventive, witty songwriting and pyrotechnic piano chops. The follow-up, Whatever And Ever Amen, continued in much the same vein, using irony to temper tales of broken relationships such as the track "Song For The Dumped."

A live collection, Naked Baby Photos, followed, with the group's last album, the somewhat more challenging The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, appearing in 1999. But after six years and three studio albums, the band called it quits at the end of 2000. "The band is splitting on good terms," Folds said in a statement at the time. "We are very proud of our three albums, our little hit, and our audience. Now it is time to bow out with dignity, rather than to make that final 'cash in' record and tour, which, of course, is very tempting."
Following the breakup, Folds moved to Adelaide, Australia, where he recorded his solo album and lives with his wife and one-year-old twins.

Ben Folds plays Nakano Sun Plaza Nov 9 and Shibuya Kokkaido Nov 12.See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana