And I went crazy again today, lookin’ for a strand to climb, lookin’ for a little hope…
Yesterday was not a good day. I woke up extremely angry and more than just a little depressed about what had transpired during the past few days. The compounded disappointments and aggravations of the work week felt like a two-ton weight on my back — a weight that was both a literal and figurative pain in my neck. Then I found out about the shootings in Aurora. From the time I woke up, to the time for the show, it was one of the worst days of the year. In fact, it was so bad that I felt I was going crazy. Unloading all this information on my wife over drinks relieved a small amount of pressure, but it wasn’t until the skinny girl in black took the stage that the pain found a place to go. “I let the beast in too soon…” With those first lyrics from “Fast As You Can”, the sharp thoughts doing damage in my head were polished down to harmless stones and tucked away (at least for the time being).
Fiona Apple has had her share of bad days as well — days that would probably make my complaints sound pretty trivial. Exorcising demons from those days in an ‘honest-to-a-fault’ way is what makes her such a rare talent. Sure, she’s an incredible songwriter who has proved she exists outside of the Lilith-circle she was born into. And yes, she has an incredible voice with a range rarely heard among her peers. But it’s Fiona’s ability to be brutally upfront and real about her feelings that allowed her to make a comeback after almost a decade away. There arn’t many artists who can transcend so many years and hold not only their level of popularity, but also their artistic integrity. So it really is a testament to Apple’s talent that she has released (arguably) her best album to date in 2012. And as she proved last night, she doesn’t just shine in the studio, her live performance is everything as powerful as anything on The Idler Wheel…
Apple took the stage just after 9:30pm. It was sweltering hot and it smelled a little like piss in the packed Paramount Theatre, but it was the perfect setting for the show. Just like her music, there was a little sweat and grit to augment the beauty of the venue. Backed by a 5 piece band, who effortlessly switched it up between the jazzy ballads and full-on fractured rock ‘n roll songs, Apple went back and forth from center stage to the piano on the right, always building on the momentum of the last song as she took us through selections from her entire career. In the beginning of the set, it felt like her vocals were a little buried in the mix, but they did get better with every song — finding (and sticking with) the perfect balance on “Shadowboxer”. I’d venture to say Apple actually sounds better than she did in the 90’s, but she has aged with it comes to her physical appearance. Dressed all in black, she was just too way too skinny up there. You can tell she works out by the tone of her arms, but she does look like she could use a few pounds. But like most things, Apple wouldn’t give a shit what I think about how she looks. This is a rare person who truly does not care what people think of her. She has mentioned that she doesn’t listen to modern music at all, and when you hear to her latest album, you can’t help but believe her. There is literally nothing else that sounds like “Anything We Want”, “Every Single Night, or “Werewolf” — all personal favorites from the performance.
Aside from all the great songs, and the almost obsessive crowd, the highlights of the night fell to the small details — the stand-up bass complimenting “Extraordinary Machine” and the steel pedal for “I Know”…the girl in the crowd who just couldn’t keep herself from standing up…the way Apple would clench her arm behind her back and rub her leg during the most exposing parts of her songs. When she got down on the ground and screamed the words, it was like they were on fire in her throat. It is these details that make a live show something different that listening to an album at home. It was these details that made this a 100% successful show. I doubt any of those who were standing in ovation at 11:00pm would have thought that a 2012 Fiona Apple would establish herself as one of the truly great singer-songwriters of her (my) generation…but that’s exactly what she’s done.
Fast As You Can
On The Bound
Anything We Want
Sleep To Dream
Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
Every Single Night
Not About Love
It’s Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty)