Last night’s (Monday, November 29) Ben Kweller concert at the Cat’s Cradle was opened by Julia Nunes. She played most of her songs on a ukulele, but strummed her few chords so hard that it undermined the charm the instrument is supposed to have. She had the kind of vocal twangs that made “tonight” sound like “toe-night” and “right” like “wrought” – like a less pop/less active Kate Nash. Her music just isn’t my style. I failed to see the talent (which she called her self out on). Regardless, she had a large fan base in attendance of young girls and barely post-pubescent boys. People were really digging her. She talked a lot with an immature kind of humor, but did make me laugh a few times despite my disposition. My favorite song: a cover of “Build Me Up Buttercup.”
Ben Kweller…Ben Kweller is awesome. I made it out to this concert mainly out of nostalgia for how much I used to listen to him. He performed solo because as he said, “I just wanted to get out on the road without promoting a new album (of which he is in the process of finishing up), and play some oldies.” He laughed at “oldies,” and the crowd laughed with him. His performance was delightfully endearing. He stopped in the middle of his first song (Commerce, TX) as he remembered he forgot to add an old friend to the guest list. He yelled the name into the microphone, and told the doorman to make sure this guy got in free (which he did, Ben saw him, there was a moment). Ben also stopped talking in between songs when he saw his older son, Dorian.
He got Dorian up on stage, and let him walk around and lay by his feet as he played a heartwarming piano set (including Thirteen, In Other Words, Falling). I had a spot right at the stage, closest to the piano. My eyes may have welled up a little bit when he played “Thirteen.” It’s a beautiful song. He talked about how much he loves playing at Cat’s Cradle, and he mixed similar expressions into his lyrics a few times. He played crowd favorites, requests, and a few lesser-knowns.
Ben’s solo performance exposed his creative guitar play and position as a master pianist. The show was simple. One guy, playing one instrument at a time, could get pretty slow, but Ben pulled it off. Of all the shows I’ve been to at the Cradle, I have never heard/seen a crowd so quiet, attentive, respectful. Expect to see Ben Kweller back in North Carolina again soon after his new album drops. He’ll probably have a supporting crew, and it will be hella’ swell.