Part of the deal with loving Fiona Apple is feeling protective of her, perhaps even condescendingly so. It’s tough to judge her new songs on first listen, especially live, because you (you meaning me) want her to do well, to knock it out of the park every time. So please keep in mind that I’m hopelessly biased here, but the three new songs that she played at Stubb’s last night, during her first proper show in what feels like forever, all sounded great. So did everything else. With a big crowd and a gigantic chunk of the mediasphere watching her, she absolutely rose to the occasion.
Apple looked absolutely beautiful, all sinew and lace, and the unhinged majesty of her voice remains blissfully the same as you remember. She still dances like a teenage drama-nerd spaz, too, which is obviously awesome. Her backing band was an interesting collection (cute female drummer, middle-aged hippie-jazzbo bassist, keyboardist who I could barely see, vaguely Skeet Ulrich-looking guitarist who maybe took a few too many jazz-fusion solos), but it sure was effective; those arrangements can’t be easy to bring to life. And the show’s setlist cut beautifully through her entire career, wisely going extra-heavy on When The Pawn. Apple herself is perhaps unfairly remembered as an erratic stage presence, and you could see her collecting herself between songs or even between verses. (A rare bit of stage banter came when she admitted, while grinning, that she wasn’t sure whether she’d forgotten to sing a particular verse: “I started spacing out because I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m doing a show!’ You’re imaginary. You’re not real!”) But that knife-edge emotional candor is a huge part of her appeal, and it was as great to see that returning as it was to hear all those amazing old songs, sung amazingly, once again. She is so back.
Below, check out videos of “Anything We Want” and “Every Single Night,” two of the three new songs, as well as the show’s setlist.
01 “Fast As You Can”
02 “On The Bound”
03 “Paper Bag”
05 “Anything We Want”
07 “Sleep to Dream”
08 “Extraordinary Machine”
09 “Every Single Night”
[Photos by Loren Wohl.]
UPDATE: Check “Valentine” here.