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Friday, November 12, 2010

Review + Photos + Setlist: Ben Kweller and Julia Nunes Delight a Sold-Out Off Broadway, Thursday, November 11

Posted By on Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Page 2 of 2

click to enlarge Ben Kweller at the piano, at Off Broadway - JASON STOFF
  • Jason Stoff
  • Ben Kweller at the piano, at Off Broadway

Without a band, the perpetually baby-faced singer-songwriter had room to make it up as he went along, which made for some of the best moments. After moving to the piano for a quick-and-dirty "How It Should Be (Sha Sha)" and Ben-Folds-jingly "Nothing Happening," Kweller asked audience members to take the stage to "play the keys" - their car keys - for lack of sleigh bells on "Until I Die."

Though Kweller referenced two microphones on either side of the stage, saying "We're recording an album here," he wasn't shy about going off-script: switching up the setlist, flubbing a lyric during harmonica-laced "Thirteen," and playing Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd" by audience request.

Best of all, Kweller spontaneously called out to Nunes to join him for "Sundress," a song they had never tried together before. You could hardly hear her harmonies, but she filled in the "ba-da-bum-bum" piano parts, and her comedienne's face embodied the over-the-moon exuberance of the crowd.

click to enlarge Ben Kweller fans - JASON STOFF
  • Jason Stoff
  • Ben Kweller fans

After 90 minutes, Kweller ended with power-piano-pop anthem "Penny On the Train Track." He would have needed a few extra hands to cover the song's original full-bodied instrumentation, but the crowd filled in the hand-claps, and the rest of it wasn't missed. This is songwriting distilled to its roots, and it stands alone.

Ben Kweller setlist: The written one onstage, as grabbed by photographer Jason Stoff:

  • Jason Stoff

What was actually played, as noted by writer Katie Moulton -- something's missing! Please help! 1. On My Way 2. Commerce, TX 3. Run 4. I Don't Know Why 5. How It Should Be (Sha Sha) 6. Nothing Happening 7. Until I Die 8. Sawdust Man 9. Thirteen 10. ??? 11. In Other Words 12. My Apartment 13. Make It Up 14. Wantin' Her Again 15. Chug-A-Lug (Roger Miller cover) 16. You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd (Roger Miller cover, by request) 17. Fight 18. Sundress 19. Walk On Me 20. The Rules Encore: 21. Falling 22. Penny on the Train Track

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