Fiona Apple shines in Boston

A review of Fiona Apple at the Citi Wang Theatre on June 30, 2012

, Contributing Writer

Seated shows in large concert halls have the tendency to be very hit-or-miss. It is much more difficult for artists to gauge the energy of the crowd and balance their own accordingly. It’s too often that artists will go at too slow or too fast a tempo for an audience without even knowing it. To succeed in this environment requires the deft touch of an experienced artist who can master their own emotional levels. This was the main obstacle that Fiona Apple had to overcome when she made her visit to the Citi Wang Theatre on Saturday.

Anyone who has attended a Fiona Apple concert will tell you that she really doesn’t try to control herself on stage. But, somehow, it made out for quite a successful showing. Coming out from the gates with her metaphorical guns blazing, Apple started the show with the frantic energy of “Fast As You Can”. Quickly shifting gears as fast as she could make it to her grand piano, this was followed by a powerful and almost haunting performance of “On the Bound”.

There really was no sense of continuity by this point. The energy would be constantly flowing and changing with Apple seemingly going along for the ride instead of guiding it in one direction. That being said, the one constant was how the seemingly possessed singer effortlessly tugged on the heartstrings of the audience with her emotional vocal performance, particularly in songs “Sleep To Dream” and “I Know”.

Most likely drawn from her background in jazz, Apple also really impressed by getting her supporting band involved instead of lounging in the background. There were times where Apple’s vocals were upstaged by the collaborative effort of the artists. A prime example of this would be the performance of “Not About Love”, where sudden tempo shifts were key in the mood of the song. In this case, the band, rather than Apple, took center stage and really drove it home to the crowd.

After performing “Criminal” and forgoing the pretentious formality walking off stage and coming back on, Apple decided to just to jump into her “encore” performance of “It’s Only Make Believe”. Taking this country classic by Conway Twitty and really making it her own, Apple’s vocals were almost outdone by opener Blake Mills, who joined her on stage and delivered some impressive fret work on his guitar.

In a stripped-down set that simply featured his electric guitar rack and someone on stand-up bass, Mills evoked images of Bob Dylan with an extremely bluesy folk sound during his solid opening set. Highlights included “It’ll All Work Out” and a cover of “Sleep Walk”.

Setlist

1.  Fast As You Can
2.  On The Bound
3.  Shadowboxer
4.  Paper Bag
5.  Anything We Want
6.  Get Gone
7.  Sleep To Dream
8.  Extraordinary Machine
9.  Werewolf
10. Tymps (The Sick In The Head Song)
11. Daredevil
12. I Know
13. Every Single Night
14. Not About Love
15. Carrion
16. Criminal
17. It’s Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty Cover)

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