There's so much that I've been wanting to post about recently and so little time (Finals Season for all you who have banished academic life from your working memory...and the holidays). The first order of blogging business is an effusive review of my Fiona Apple concert experience on Sunday, December 11th at the Nokia Theater. With a name like that, I didn't expect much from the venue, but it was actually quite fitting for this type of music (as opposed to a hard-rock concert) with decent acoustics and a well designed tiered (floor level, another floor one step up, and then stadium style seating towards the back), general admission layout.
Opening act: David Garza. Never heard of him before, but played a decent set on his acoustic guitar solely accompanied by this guy on a minikeyboard-blowing type of thing. I read one critic's disparaging remarks on Garza's scatting attempts. I'd have to agree w/ that one.
The main event! Fiona came out of the shadows and took a seat at the piano, dressed in a brownish/beige bohemian looking dress and looking slightly Mary-Kate Olsenish. She and her five-piece band (including Extraordinary Machine producer, Mike Elizondo, on bass) got the show off to an energetic start with "Get Him Back" from EM. The next song continued on to my favorite track on EM, "Better Version of Me." Then I nearly peed in my pants when Fiona slowed down into"Shadowboxer" from Tidal...the only thing that would have seriously put me over the edge would have been if she sang "Never is a Promise." But there are no complaints here about the setlist (see below), which was a delightful mix of all three albms: Tidal, When the Pawn, and EM. The entire night was a roller coaster ride of vicarious emotions, ranging from raging irascability ("Limp") to gut-wrenching resignment of heartbreak ("I Know") to uncharacteristically-Fionalike lightheartedness ("Tymps"). Fiona channelled her emotions better than on any record. The chills-inducing effect was not only from the performance but the audience....I was in absolute awe to the devotion of her fans. Men, women of all ages around me were singing every single word to every song. I felt like quite a flaky fan for not being to keep up (the downside of musical downloads = no liner notes!).
Adding to the undulating emotions was the constant fear that she was going to have another nervous breakdown and stop the concert (as she did on her last tour in 2000). Most of her minimal banter was about how nervous she was...and there were some times where she would walk away from the mic during a musical break and it looked like she was battling some inner-demon to get back to the spotlight. She even stared at it from far away during what felt like an unintentionally-extended musical break as if it (or she) was possessed. Lucky for us, Fiona got through the rest of the night and made a bunch of formerly angst-ridden (for the most part) teenagers sublimely happy.
Here's the setlist, which I got from FionaApple.org:
Get Him Back (Fiona at piano)
Better Version of Me (piano)
To Your Love (piano)
I Know (Fiona standing at microphone)
Sleep to Dream (standing)
Paper Bag (standing)
Oh Well (piano)
On The Bound (piano)
Red, Red, Red (standing)
Not About Love (piano)
Get Gone (piano)
Fast As You Can (standing)
Extraordinary Machine (standing, with David Garza on acoustic guitar)
Parting Gift (at piano, alone on stage)