Ben Folds Live is a stellar exception to the rule that live albums are contractually obliged stocking fillers. Folds is at his best on stage with only a grand piano for company. He is a compelling showman who's blessed with an unforced charm that complements the anger and melancholy that informs most of his songs: the self-lacerating "Army" loses nothing by having a hall of people bellowing the saxophone and trumpet parts as Folds conducts them. The material here spans Folds' work with the three-piece Ben Folds Five as well as 2001's excellent solo debut. The readings of "Fred Jones," "The Luckiest," and "Brick" display an immediacy and intimacy that transcend the recorded versions. A couple of worthwhile curiosities--a minor chord rearrangement of "Song for the Dumped" and a faithful, affecting version of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" round out the offerings. This is an impeccable document of a superior performer at work.