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Fiona Apple live!

| March 21, 2012

With plenty of time to do the math while waiting for Fiona Apple to reappear for an encore that never materialized Sunday night at Lincoln Hall, it turns out the sold-out crowd shelled out about $1 per minute to witness the reclusive singer’s grand return.
The 50-minute set couldn’t possibly satiate fans who patiently waited five years to see Apple on stage outside of Los Angeles and seven for a new album. (Her fourth record is scheduled for release this summer with another doozy of a title, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw, And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do). But, the 34-year-old packed enough frenetic energy into 11 songs to exhaust a rabid Red Bull drinker. 
She sneered through clenched teeth and fuzz box guitar on a slinky “Sleep To Dream” while “On The Bound” stripped away the whimsy of Apple’s go-to producer Jon Brion for a darker, on-the-brink telling.  Her meat-and-potatoes backing quartet did the heavy lifting on an acid jazz rendition of “Fast As You Can” as Apple squirmed and flinched like a woman coming undone at the seams. The swooning “Carrion” had her holding her palms to her temples as if a rush of blood to the head threatened to overtake her and the pummeling “Mistake” found her writhing like Ashley Judd in “Bug” with microscopic creepy crawlies burrowing under her skin.
Apple’s mood brightened during “Anything We Want,” a new tune first unveiled at SXSW that sounds like the cast of “Stomp” going to town on the Tin Man. The clinks and clanks are offset by her herky jerky phrasing of desire. Only in her hands can a come-on like “you will remember that I wanted you to kiss me/when we will have some time alone” be both disjointed and alluring.
Reliving each self-flagellating lyric must take its toll and Apple looked worse for wear with her sinewy Madonna arms and Angelina Jolie-level gauntness. But, her once-honeyed voice suffered the most radical change.  Always one prone to growling out notes, she teetered between purposefully shredding her vocal cords and straining to keep from sounding ragged. Suppressing coughs and cradling cups of tea during breaks could point to an illness, but the damage seemed more profound. 
Not that the rapt crowd seemed to mind. “Goddamn, we missed you,” one fan cried out, prompting an uncharacteristic “awww” from Apple and a split-second crack in her steely focus.
— Janine Schaults


Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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