The 51-year-old musician walked out to the downtown Nashville stage to loud crowd cheers. He stopped to bow in front of the audience before sitting down at his piano. For the first time, I saw Folds for what he is. He’s not just an impressive musician, singer and brilliant lyricist. He’s also a conductor. He orchestrated every bit of sound that came from his incredible four-piece band, using conducting gestures as the music filled the cool Nashville night.
His band is also true musicians, able to harmonize and perform at a symphonic level. As Folds mentioned, they didn’t have a bass and, quite frankly, they didn’t need one. Instead, they used a “bass harmonica” to fill in the gaps.
During his set, Folds performed “Battle of Who Could Care Less,” “Brick,” “Jesuslands,” “The Luckiest” and “Landed.” He told stories of the songs, even letting attendees know how many of his songs he’d written right here in Nashville. He started off like many dreamers in Nashville, broke and hopeful. That all led him to this day, though, when he got his star on the Music City Walk of Fame. Folds called it an “amazing day” and graciously thanked the city.
The crowd was especially receptive to two of Folds’ tracks. The first was a collaboration with English writer, Nick Hornby. It’s the story about Levi Johnston and, judging by the crowd response, they hadn’t heard the hilarious song, appropriately dubbed “Levi Johnston’s Blues.” The other was “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” which parodies both Korn and Rage Against the Machine. When that one started, Nashville star Charles Esten (who was seated right in front of us) couldn’t help but stand with excitement. That track is a serious crowdpleaser.
After more than an hour of music, Folds finished his set to roaring applause. He waved to the Nashville audience who excitedly stood and gave him a standing ovation he truly deserved.