Ben Folds Five's concert Thursday is due to be part reunion, part farewell.
Reunion in that the show will be the first time the trio has played together in nearly 10 years. And farewell in that back then, when they disbanded in October 2000 after opening for Weever, even the band members weren't aware it would be their final performance.
"We didn't say, 'This is going to be our last gig,'" Folds said in a phone interview. "We played in Tokyo, and then we disbanded between that and the next tour."
Pianist Folds, bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee were scheduled to reunite at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C., as part of MySpace.com's new music program, "Front to Back," which features performances of entire albums. Ben Folds Five was to perform "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner," their 1999 release. The concert is due to be shown on the site in October.
Proceeds will benefit Operation Smile, a nonprofit that performs operations to correct childhood facial deformities.
The album was the last of four that the group released. Their best known CD was "Whatever and Ever Amen." The group, which formed in 1993, is known for its witty, intelligent lyrics and scored a hit with the song "Brick."
When MySpace came calling, Folds said he wasn't all that excited: "I didn't think it was a very good idea because I didn't want to play a whole Ben Folds Five record without the guys."
Then he went to Sledge and Jessee to feel them out, to see if they were in the right place for one more performance together. And, it turns out, they were.
"Right place, right time, right event," Folds explained. "A couple of years ago, it would never have occurred to me to suggest it. And they probably would have had to think about it a long time."
But Thursday's show doesn't mean the group will be a regular on the touring circuit. Folds will be busy promoting his new album, "Way to Normal," which will be released Sept. 30, and is planning to write an album with British author Nick Hornby.
"We were in each other's back pockets 24 hours a day," he said of the group. "It was a big sigh of relief to live lives not connected to someone else."