Rainy summer nights can be a real drag sometimes. If you had plans you might want to cancel them and just relax. Concerts in the summer though are almost always outdoors and you usually have to hope that wherever you are going there is some kind of roof over you to protect from the downpours. Luckily every seat at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston is covered because it really came down at the tour opener for the Cake and Ben Folds tour.
Starting the night was Tall Heights. Though they aren’t on the “bill” they are along for the ride on this tour and they stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. The trio are from Boston so they got quite the welcome when they stepped out to the stage. Having seen them before I knew to expect great harmonies and wonderful musicianship. Somehow they have improved even more and cannot be missed if you are going to any of these shows.
After a short break Ben Folds came out alone and plucked away at his piano before going right into “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” with a nod and wink to the audience based on the weather we were having. Ben sounded great for the first two songs alone, but then Tall Heights came out to back him for the remainder of the set and added that extra touch that makes seeing live music so special. About halfway through the set Ben explained to the audience that since it was the tour kick off they had written a song for the occasion. It was titled Boston, Massachusetts and the song was amazing. It was as if they tried to write the silliest theme song for a tv show in the 80’s and I don’t say that to be cruel. At the song’s end the whole band sang out “Boston, Massachusetts”, but Ben wasn’t happy as they were supposed to do it earlier in the song, so they went right back into it and did it again.
A couple of songs later he had the crowd in absolute silence during “The Luckiest.” The rain had stopped at that point so you could have heard a pin drop at the venue if someone had been so keen to drop one. From there it was a run of upbeat numbers to close the set out with “Zak and Sara,” “Rockin’ the Suburbs” and “Not the Same.” Ben stretched out “Rockin’ the Suburbs” to a little under ten minutes in one of the silliest versions he’s ever done and got the audience chiming in with plenty of “fucks,” while he instructed a three-part harmony from them during “Not the Same.” It was a great way to close out his 70 minute set.
Cake took the stage after a somewhat lengthy set change to “Vince Decola-War” from Rocky IV and went right into “Frank Sinatra.” There was a tree on stage that front-man John McCrea spoke about and would come back to later on in the set. He also spoke at length about registering to vote with Headcount, who were in attendance signing people up. A theme of the set was how much John spoke to the crowd. Not that anyone was complaining, but it seemed to take away from the music. Having never seen Cake before this might just be part of the show, but it seemed off to me.
After “Opera Singer,” John began to speak about the tree on stage again and it turns out they have given out trees before at other tour stops to help promote the idea of saving trees and clean air. Unfortunately the whole giving away the tree took too long with asking audience members to shout out what kind of tree it is, but eventually it was given away and we all went back to the music with “It’s Coming Down.” Again I don’t mind talking about good causes, but don’t let it waste precious music time when the venue has a curfew.
From then on it was all business though with “Sick of You,” including a fantastic audience sing-a-long to the chorus with splitting the audience in half for each part of it. This was followed by a one-two set ending punch of “Never There” and “The Distance.” The audience, who were clearly there for Cake, went wild and danced and sang along like no one was watching. While many thought it was over and headed for the exits, as it was 2 minutes to curfew, the band quickly came back and did a lightning fast version of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.” If there had been just a little less talking I think there wouldn’t have been a need to rush it, but hey it’s live music and shit happens.
Article: Bryan Lasky