I recently had a notion to see singer songwriter Ben Folds when I learned he was coming to my city. I’ve liked him for years for his catchy, clever, sometimes dark, and quirky pop tunes. But I respect him even more for his beautiful piano playing. I saw him in concert in a small venue about 15 years ago when he was considered an alternative musician and caught him again a couple years ago when he played at a Panasonic press conference I covered at the Detroit Auto Show.
So I went online to buy two tickets to the show thinking I would go with a friend or my son who enjoys Ben Fold’s music. I was surprised to see the show was nearly sold out, and the balcony, where I planned to sit, had only a few single seats left. I hesitantly made the decision to buy one ticket and go to the concert alone – another new widowhood experience.
As the time got nearer, I planned to meet my son for happy hour at a spot downtown as a prelude to the concert. I was looking forward to the show, albeit a little uneasy as I said goodbye to my kid who wished me well.
The concert hall and parking lot were jammed — sold out to the point where they charged me to park in the lot and when I got to the top level, there were no empty spots. So I had to leave the lot to park in another lot. I got into the show late and Folds started promptly at 7:30, forcing me and dozens of others to wait for his playing to stop before we could go in. My seat was sandwiched between two twenty-something couples. One couple was large and unfriendly; the other was pleasant enough noshing on crackers and cheese while sipping their wine.
Now I hadn’t been in the balcony of Orchestra Hall since I was there with Tom. In fact, for years Tom and I had season tickets to the jazz series there. So when Ben went into one of his more melancholy songs, my eyes got all watery. I looked at the seats Tom and I used to sit in and recalled him often falling asleep during those jazz concerts, which kind of irritated me. But he said the music relaxed him. I had a quiet cry remembering it all, but no one noticed. When the song ended, I was fine.
The show was excellent; I walked around comfortably at intermission checking out the crowd. I saw only one young couple I know, but they didn’t see me.
The whole experience was kind of bittersweet. But clearly, a concert alone is nothing to be feared. In fact, who knows? I might do it again.