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Ben Folds: And a Piano Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall Munhall, PA



Ben Folds: And a Piano
Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
Munhall, PA
Friday, October 7, 2016
by Lisa Sikon
file photo Ben Folds by Dan  Locke

Ben Folds is a master at the piano, combine that the amazing lyrics and you have a fantastic show. He started off with "Cell Phone", and it was clear from the start that this would be a show with the audience participating. His piano skills are above and beyond amazing. The lyrics weave a story into the music. Ben used the audience to compliment the music, at one point instructed the crowd to perform a four part harmony while he played the piano. The end result was truly a one of a kind experience.

In between songs, he talked with the audience, completely at ease at though it were just a few friends sitting around a living room. He performed "Not a Fan" after telling the origins of the song, the piano playing was truly awesome. It seemed every song the crowd sang along, and he played along with it, stopping and turning to the audience to let them take over the lyrics while he played. Before playing "Underground" he invited three members of the audience up on stage to sing background vocals. I was extremely impressed in the performance,since this clearly was not rehearsed. 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto made an appearance onstage. He came on before the intermission to 
Mayor Bill Peduto by Dan Locke
introduce the paper airplane part of the show. The audience can write any song down on a piece of paper and fold it into an airplane to throw onto the stage. Ben will choose from the airplanes the songs he will play. He did start off the second set with a "Happy Birthday" to an audience member. I thought it was a very special touch. He played some of my favorites, as to be expected. "Brick" and "Luckiest" were part of the show. I've listened to many of Ben Folds songs on the radio and recordings, but seeing him perform them live was truly an amazing experience. 

At one point in the show, he took what was written on the paper airplane and put the words to music. First he read out loud what was on the airplane, then just started playing the piano and singing the exact same words. It was amusing to the crowd and I thought it showed that he is so incredibly talented. There were at times, when he had to pull out the lyric book, but it just showed how prolific of a song writer that he has been over the years.  Ben also added a few plugs in the show to support the Pittsburgh Orchestra, showing that he just isn't in town to do a show and head out. Keeping up with the headlines also impressed me. 

Just a few words about the venue. The Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall was built in 1898 as part of Andrew Carnegie's "Gift to the People". The venue has about a 1000 seats and has wonderful 
file photo Ben Folds by Dan  Locke

acoustics, charm and old character. The only thing negative I can say about this venue was that general admission standing room only tickets were sold. There was a small section in front of the stage that was packed with people. The people who had the front row seats were forced to look at the backs of the standing crowd, even Ben Folds remarked on this when he first came on stage. I felt that this was more of a sit down show, but selling those tickets forced all of the audience to stand up. I thought it was a bit inappropriate for this type of show to sell the STO tickets.

Ben Folds performance was exceptional. His skills on the piano is truly something to see performed live. The lyrics are woven into each song creating a remarkable story. I loved hearing my favorite songs and did sing along at times as did the rest of the crowd. It was definitely and audience participation type of show. I loved the concept of the paper airplanes and the spontaneity of not knowing what could come next in the set list. Definitely a great show and I would recommend anyone to go see the show, just bring along your singing voice and brush up on the lyrics.



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