July 29, 2012
In 1997, I was a sophomore in high school. I shared a tiny room in the back of the library with a pair of junior & senior girls who worked on the yearbook with me. I wanted so badly to be these two girls. They characterized my vision of cool: artsy, chill, and popular without being obnoxious. They unknowingly educated me on so many things in the world. One of those was music. Our daily listening mostly rotated between teh albums: “Tidal”, “From the Choirgirl Hotel”, and “The Mollusk”. With my friend base at the time mostly listening to Jars of Clay or country, I was baffled by how these girls had discovered such different music. Yes, this is just how sheltered I was at the time.
I’ve faithfully purchased all of Fiona’s albums since that time. I even have the “unreleased version” of “Extraordinary Machine”. She didn’t tour much though, and when she did, she never came anywhere near Indiana. So many years had gone by since her last album, that I’d given up hope on hearing new music, let alone finally catching her in person.
After 15 years, last night was the night. I saw Fiona Apple in concert, while touring for her new album, “The Idler Wheel”. (Double win.) Thanks to getting in on the pre-sale, I scored front row mezzanine tickets. They were great seats, luckily on the same side as her piano. The sound was a little off for the opening number, but her vocals rang through clearly the rest of the show.
It was made more exciting since one of the girls I went with was even more excited than I was. I thought she might faint. If this were 1950, Fiona Apple would be her Elvis. It was hilarious. Fiona was like a tiny fairy on stage. She jumped around, had a hard time deciding what wraps/skirts/jackets to wear throughout the show, and spent a great deal of time sitting on the floor in front of the drums. A little bizarre and I worried she was on something with her frantic, slightly incoherent rambling at the start of the show but so long as she sang well and her health wasn’t in danger, I decided to go with it. As she sat down at the piano, she said something about how she’d been backstage reading all the letters people had sent. She clarified while holding her hand to her heart, “As much as you all think I mean to you, I know I need you way more than you need me.” And with a little wiggle and a giggle, she played on.
‘Shadowboxer’ and ‘Paper Bag’ came early in the show, after which I announced I could leave the show happy. They’re my two favorites. The show peaked with an extended meditative guitar jam at the end of ‘Sleep to Dream’. It was like a zen pause mid-show. Loved it.
To borrow another reviewers words, she was “jazzy retro cool” on ‘Extraordinary Machine’, really playing up the title lyrics, pulling out some laughter from the audience with her almost mockery tone. Everything was going great until some drama seemed to erupt somewhere up behind us in the balcony. We saw a guy escorted out by security (story goes that he spilled his beer all over some girls). Not moments later, another guy walked down in front of us and people started screaming, “stop him! stop him!”, as girls started running down the stairs yelling, “he maced me!!”. Soon, the entire section started emptying as the pepper spray drifted and we all started feeling a bit of irritation from it. I don’t know why/how people like these guys end up at concerts. Why pay so much money to be drunk assholes? And why were they at a Fiona Apple concert? This fiasco interrupted what should have been a rare quiet moment during the show for “I Know”. We pretty much missed most of that song but were able to go back to our seats after that. There was a moment as I heard the yelling and saw the girls running where I wondered if I should be worried about something worse. With the recent happenings in Colorado, I probably should have reacted more strongly. I’m way too desensitized to things.
The show had another build up to the end with ‘Criminal’, ‘Carrion’, and the explosive ‘Not About Love’. Her vocals growled as she screamed, “I am not in love”. They did extended breaks in the song just to screw with us. You could tell she was enjoying the tension it created. It was a great and emotional ending full of “I love you, Fiona!!” shouts from the crowd. I couldn’t make out everything she said afterward but something about not leaving the stage for an encore. So, she went right into a Conway Twitty cover. It was gorgeous. Her vocals really shined and I’m a sucker for bottleneck guitar. It was an endearing close to such a powerful show. She tried asking if she had time for one more to the people off-stage but no dice. And with that, she waved farewell to all of us much in the style of an excited 5-year-old and bounded off the stage.
No regrets for the costly ticket (due to Ticketmaster BS). Really nice night. I think she was at her best when seated at the piano, pounding keys and screaming in the mike, and I was sitting there air-screaming along.
- Fast As You Can
- On the Bound
- Paper Bag
- Anything We Want
- Get Gone
- Sleep to Dream
- Extraordinary Machine
- Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
- I Know
- Every Single Night
- Not About Love
- It’s Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty cover)