Ben Folds

Anybody familiar with Ben Folds’ catalog knows the 44-year-old piano-pounding tunesmith is a classic smart-ass, and that sharp wit lent itself to a crowd-pleasing show at the Cosmopolitan pool on July 15.

Touring behind Lonely Avenue, a collaboration with author Nick Hornby, Folds opened with the album’s toe-tapping anthem “Levi Johnston’s Blues.” It’s a hilarious ode to Bristol Palin’s baby daddy, which set the tone for the rest of the evening. Folds amused himself with the Cosmo’s giant video screen that overlooks the Strip, flipping the bird to pedestrians below while announcing, “This is a message from the Cosmopolitan,” and singing an impromptu song for the “douchebags” walking down the street with their backward baseball caps.

He also played a clever cover of Ke$ha’s pop hit “Sleazy” in which he stepped out from behind his piano to rap, and later led a three-man percussion solo that was rich with irony.

But not all was a joke to Folds. Toward the end of “Belinda,” Folds and his four-man band rocked as hard as any mid-tempo song driven by piano and French horn ever will, and he had couples clutching during a sincere offering of “The Luckiest.” Folds peppered the latter half of the show with poppier selections such as “Zak and Sara,” “Kate” and “One Angry Dwarf,” doing his damndest to ensure that everyone left in an upbeat mood.

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