Fiona Apple 07.25.12
The lights drop at the Paramount and Fiona takes the stage to a standing ovation that, never seems to tire of standing (and here i thought it was going to be a relaxing set). The girl/guy ratio here is easily 3 to 1 and the ladies make their presence known, cheering loudly during instrumental passages. It has to be noted that while it shouldn't matter it's tough not to be taken aback by Fionas emaciated appearance, apparently the product of her Obsessive Compulsive disorder she looks ready to break into pieces in many ways. Not to mention her long running gut wrenching passion now comes across more terrifying than ever as every muscle twitches as she belts out (and nails each note) or slams the piano keys like they're in some kind of fight.
The new material sounding incredible live as she strains her vocal chords to seemingly bleed to get her sounds. Like every track is being sung for the first time. Written as it goes along. Dripping with passion. The songs arrangements feel particularly "rock" tonight as well surprisingly. Did I mention the cheers? The crowd clings to every word of the old tracks, singing along shamelessly like some sort of unhired choir. When she speaks it's soft and shy but she makes it quite clear she's happy to be here. Her backing band is flawless an interesting vibe. Perhaps for me personally as it's been a minute since I'd seen some sort of solo act, and for a guy that sees many bands, this is the first time I've felt like I was at a show in a long time. Perhaps because it's so different than most of what we cover but there was something special in the room that even as a writer (though mostly a poor one) I just can't explain. The setlist winds between hits, old favorites and tracks off her latest, "The Idler Wheel..." all seemingly having their right place in the set. She twists and contorts her body, putting on some sort of tormented dance through incredibly unique solo's from her guitarist (who's name I went home and immediately googled). Easily one of the highlights of the show. If he had a band I'd go see it. Extrordianry machine is simply brilliant. Her keyboardist playing the string and bell parts live, her nailing the notes. The crowd squealing with joy. It's amazing that even though some of the 90's production on her track wares with time, in a live setting all of it sounds more fresh timeless. Though the only distraction from the brilliant performance in front of us was the continual crowd cries of "We Love You Fiona" in any moment of silence, the off tempo crowd clapping that comes with the excitement of seeing one of your favorites who rarely tours. While adding to the electricity in the air, it certainly takes away from the sounds making it to your ears. The audience response to Criminal sums up the evening more perfectly than anything though, knowing every word and every next step of the way, and Fiona delivering everything precisely how we all imagined it. A perfect evening where expectation and incredible artistic devotion meet in the middle and make friends.