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At the Citi Performing Arts Center
Fans of Fiona Apple were in for a treat at last night’s show at Boston’s Citi Performing Arts Center. Apple was in top form and gave the crowd roughly an hour and a half of breathtaking and powerful music. She’s touring in support of her fourth album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, which was released on June 19th and is Apple’s first new release in nearly seven years.
She kicked things off with a one-two-punch of “Fast As You Can” followed directly by “On The Bound”, two up-tempo numbers from 1999’s When The Pawn. With her 5-piece backing band behind her, Apple stood front and center, her lithe figure commanding power over the microphone and stage. It was clear that the venue was Fiona’s house tonight (not that the audience would have wanted it any other way). Everyone was going wild, clapping loudly and screaming, “We love you Fiona”. Things then slowed down a bit as she moved behind her piano for a stunning performance of one of her earliest singles, “Shadowboxer”. This was followed by another fan favorite, “Paper Bag”. As I looked around, I noticed that everyone was mouthing the personal and emotional lyrics to the song along with Apple. I immediately felt a kinship with the rest of the crowd. Apple’s music has gotten me through a lot and it was clear that everyone in the audience had experienced that as well. It was so special be surrounded by people who feel the same way about her as I do.
After those four songs I did not think things could get any better, but of course it did. She played a highlight from her new album, “Anything We Want”. Despite the fact that the new album has only been out for a week and a half, the crowd went crazy as the opening chords of the song started, clapping and cheering even louder than they did for her older material — a testament to how devoted Fiona’s fans are to her. Apple was once again front and center on the stage. She twirled around in her beige top and flowing blue skirt, her arms twisting around in an almost violent manner as her powerful voice boomed the chorus to the song: “We can. Do anything. We want.” Thanks for the reminder and encouragement, Fiona!
As the evening rolled on, Apple continued to bring the crowd hit after hit after hit. These included “Sleep To Dream”, “Extraordinary Machine”, and a new song, “Werewolf”, which truly highlighted Apple’s voice and made it sound even more powerful than it usually does (which is certainly saying something). During “Tymps (The Sick In The Head Song)”, Apple got on the ground and started writhing around, her limbs flailing. Throughout this, all I could think about was what a true powerhouse Apple is. Despite the fact that I love Apple’s back catalogue, the songs from the new album were the true treats of the concert. On “Daredevil” she sounded the angriest that she had been all night long and the album’s first single, “Every Single Night”, was just as excellent. Her emotion when she sang these songs was so clear and it was as though the anger that caused her to pen them in the first place kept coming out any time she sang them.
Just like all the greatest musicians, Apple’s music has the gift to bring people together- people of all ages, gender, etc. Her lyrics are so evocative and relatable that it seems nearly impossible not to fall in love with them. During the opening chords of “Get Gone”, a fan yelled out the song’s most biting lyric: “f***ing go”, as though he just could not wait for Fiona to say it herself. The audience wildly screamed and clapped at that, probably because they all were just as eager as he was. As I noted above, it was so special to be in a venue filled with people to whom Apple’s music has meant as much as it has to me. Whether they had been a fan since her 1996 debut, Tidal, or if they were just a toddler at that point and found Fiona later on, everyone in the crowd was there for the same reason: they love Fiona Apple. As I looked around the venue, I noticed that the woman sitting a few seats down from me was crying. Part of me wanted to say something along the lines of “It’s ok, I know how you feel” to her, but then I remembered this woman doesn’t need me – she’s got Fiona.
Apple ended the set with two tracks from Tidal, “Carrion” and a jazzy rendition of what is arguably Apple’s biggest hit, “Criminal”. During “Criminal”, Apple once again got onto the ground, shaking violently and this time the song ended and she stayed there. It was around this point that I realized that despite a “Thank you”, Apple had barely addressed the crowd at all during the night, which can be typical of Apple’s live shows. However, as soon as thought entered my brain, Apple hopped up from the ground and declared (in regards to being on the floor), “That was f***ing fun. If you ever get to do a concert, you should do that”. Duly noted, Fiona. She told the crowd that instead of leaving “I’m going to do this: clap clap clap doo doo doo doo clap clap. I’m back!”. It was an adorable moment and left me even more in love with her than I was when the show started. She ended things with a cover of the Conway Twitty song “It’s Only Make Believe”. After this ended, she threw her hands up in the air, said “goodnight!”, and waltzed off the stage.
Overall, this was an amazing show. My only small complaint (and I almost don’t feel like it’s even fair to voice this) was the fact that the set was a bit light on songs from the new album. Regardless, Apple put on a stunning show. If you get the chance to see her, I highly suggest it. If you can’t make it to one of her live shows, I also highly suggest you pick up a copy of her latest album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, which is out now.