Selected by Dan
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
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First solo tour
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
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.