Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Finding The Winning Balance With Ben Folds

Ben Folds rose to acclaim in 1993 as the frontman of alt-college rockers Ben Folds Five. With the band best known for the hit Brick, they split in 2000, and Folds rose to solo acclaim while enjoying further success in the band The Bens. Having spent lockdown teaching songwriting online, his latest album, What Matters Most, is a culmination of compositions from those study sessions and other musical explorations. As he returns to the UK for his first shows in far too long, the expectant crowd awaits his arrival patiently at the beautiful Symphony Hall.

Before he arrives on stage, New York-based Spaniard Lau Noah teases her debut album release with a stunning, stripped-back set that really highlights the depth of beauty in her vocals. In covering Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, the echoes of the musical great within the artist stood before the audience and were very apparent. Alongside the stunning If A Tree Falls in Love With A River, it is clear that the audience is seeing a future household name blossom in front of their eyes.

With four solo albums and umpteen collaborative releases under his belt, Ben Folds strolls casually on stage and launches into Exhausting Lover, which kicks off a sensational set that sees Folds deliver playful, witty insights into his life and craft.

Using the performance as an opportunity to showcase his latest studio album, one of the night's standouts is the album's title track. Joining the key moments are Rock This Bitch, Not The Same, and closing numbers Zak and Sara.

Ben Folds has always managed to find a winning balance between humour and heart. This performance is no exception to that rule.