| || |
Fiona Apple at Kleinhans
October 11, 2012 - April Diodato
If you ever have the chance to see Fiona Apple live, don't hesitate.
Until this year, I could probably count the number of concerts I had been to on one hand. I realize that this is pretty unusual for a 27-year-old. Whenever my favorite artists would come to a city nearby, tickets would sell out before I could finish weighing the merits of buying a ticket or a new pair of shoes. (The shoes always won out in those debates). It should also be noted that my tolerance for loud noise and rowdy, drunken crowds is more similar to a grandmother than someone in their mid-to-late 20s. It's easy to get trampled when you're 4'11”.
Then, last summer, my favorite singer, Amy Winehouse, died of alcohol poisoning at 27 after a years-long struggle with addiction. When her 2007 tour dates were announced, Winehouse was slated to come to Toronto, but I decided to hold off on buying a ticket after reports of her shambolic appearances became increasingly frequent. Would she even show up or be too drunk to remember the lyrics? “Maybe she'll have pulled it together by the next time she comes here on tour,” I hoped. It never happened. I continue to regret it, and I vowed to never miss another live show by an artist I admired.
When I heard that Fiona Apple – whom I've loved since middle school – was coming to Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo Oct. 9 on her first tour in seven years, I didn't waste any time snapping up tickets. Tuesday's show may be the best I've seen to date.
Apple is a powerful performer. She's dynamic, unpredictable and leaves her heart on the stage in a way I hadn't previously witnessed. Her songs sound torn from the pages of her diary, and when she performs, she's pulling from deep within, appearing to relive the emotions she felt when she penned them.
As fans would expect, she was a bit anomalous, alternating her hairstyle, changing in and out of white, fuzzy slippers a few times, shedding her long, sheer skirt which she wore underneath a black dress, revealing black leggings. The crowd affectionately encouraged her as she occasionally became completely consumed by the music. During some interludes by her talented backing band, Apple leaned up against the piano, with toe-tapping evolving into dancing wildly, shifting to the floor and rocking out during “Sleep to Dream.”
The set contained a lot of material from her new album, “The Idler Wheel...” as well as two of her big hits from “Tidal,” several songs from “When the Pawn...” and a few from “Extraordinary Machine.” Some of the most stirring were “Shadowboxer,” “Paper Bag,” and the cover she closed with, “It's Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty, which elicited enthusiastic cheers; during a quiet moment, one fan simply shouted, “I love this!” I knew that Apple had an incredible voice but had never known how powerful, especially when I heard her belt it out during “It's Only Make Believe.” My rudimentary definition of an excellent live performer is someone who sounds as good as or better than they do on the record, and Apple was much better (a difficult feat).
The acoustically phenomenal Kleinhans was the perfect venue for Apple, making her performance feel even more intimate. I saw a few angry posts on Facebook the next day from some concert-goers who felt the ushers were a bit too strident in their enforcement of the rules, which discouraged standing and cell phone use. The three teens sitting behind me, who talked and texted throughout the concert, could have used some shushing.
“Do you think she's, like, Adele 10 years from now?” one mused, and the others reacted as if she was presenting a very important, breakthrough theory.
They both sing soulful songs and are female, but the similarities stop there. Perhaps they would have noticed if they had been paying attention – and what a shame it is that they hadn't.