Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fiona Apple + Blake Mills at The Beacon Theatre

While it isn't as wildly aggressive and perhaps as brutal as masculine rage, there is something to be said for feminine rage. There's a sobering solemnity to it that can make it more effective than any heavy fisted punch. Watching Fiona Apple last night at the Beacon Theatre, I felt enraged and mournful all in the same instant. It's this complexity of her emotions that make her music so intriguing to me. To be at a performance of Fiona apple's is to be witness to the strange erratic world of an emotional woman's mind. There's an artistry to her expression that borders on insane genius. With every tremor of her vocal chords, with every swat of her twitchy hands jerked at her nervous petite frame you get the sense of a sane woman unhinged. You know straight away that she is incredibly intelligent, that she is strong, but also that she is sensitive and reactive. I don't pity her for her tender feelings, I envy her. I wish I could be that raw, that wounded and still cry out fiercely with so much power and dedication, with so much talent.

Cameras were not really permitted during the show,
snuck this at the encore
The blend of her voice with her co-conspirator for the evening, Blake Mills, made it a little more entertaining than I would have previously anticipated.  There was a playfulness to the stage that I hadn¹t encountered at a Fiona Apple gig before. The show started with Blake and Fiona side by side in front of a chalkboard, where they both simultaneously began to write out the word "TEACH" followed perfectly in sync by "ME HOW", then it became a musical chalk board scroll repetition, where they retraced the words they had written, and as Blake put his chalk down and slowly walked away, Fiona finished the statement with a flourishing script that read "to be free". It was very art house-y and fun, especially how musical the scribblings had become. The set was very complimentary in that Blake Mill's voice and skilled guitar playing were more light hearted sounding in approach and were beautifully offset by the heavy deep tones of the upright bass, and the aggressive clamor of the drums. Fiona didn't sit at her piano nearly enough for my taste, but when she did it was a treasure for my ears to behold. The piano really is an extension of her, like a grumpy old man with a booming timbre for a voice that adds that special little oomph needed to add impact to her wavering voice and lyrical poetry. Her performance on the piano during "Not About Love" absolutely blew me away. Blake Mills filled in the gaping chasm left by the lack of piano during "Waltz (Better than Fine)" by playing a superb guitar rendition of the piano's part.

To be honest, I felt a little sorry for Blake Mills, clearly the audience was primarily there for Fiona and I noticed during his songs was when people would spring up to grab a drink or run to the bathroom. It seemed beyond disrespectful and on top of that they ended up missing out on some very enjoyable duets, like "Seven". There is clearly a wonderful chemistry between these two artists, and the dichotomy of their characters created a well balanced and interesting performance. In summary, I will gladly go see this pair anytime they decide to do a show together.

First Taste
Every Single Night
Anything We Want
It'll All Work Out
Not About Love
Make Believe
Dull Tool
Don't Tell
I Know
Waltz (Better than Fine)

Friday, October 18, 2013

The return of nine inch nails, of me

I have been on hiatus. So has nine inch nails. It's been a long, quiet, and arduous road for both me, and for music I love. This week proved one thing to me, and that was we could never really stay away from the things we love to do. After years of "silence" from concerts, nine inch nails announced they were touring, and I had the honor of seeing them at the prudential center in Newark, New Jersey. It was nothing short of fantastic, even if the crowd crush almost ground me into a fine pulp. What did it matter? I was third person in from the rail, and Trent Reznor was life sized!

Yes. I was this close.
There were many special moments of the evening, but the thing that keeps sticking out in my mind is the general sense of "groove" injected into the set. I even spied Mr. Reznor replace his trademark agonized crouch for a rhythmic wiggle that garnered a catcall or two from yours truly. (I GOT A DOLLA! I shouted, quite shamelessly). He even chuckled at the hoots and hollers! The addition of two voluptuous female back up singers added to the cool funk of the new album's sound, and the female presence on a nine inch nails stage was unprecedented! It added a depth andpersonality to the new tracks, and breathed some freshness into old ones.

The true breakout sensation of the nine inch nails live show is their light show. It has become a signature of nine inchnails' performance over the last few years. After "Lights in the Sky" we have come to expect a stellar production, and while the festival tour over the summer was promising, clearly the real art was saved for their solo arena shows. The only drawback is if you have epilepsy. The lights flash and shift pretty rapidly, and while they create a spectacular display, it can be a lot to take in! The benefit of the light production is that no matter where you are, you have a good seat and a visual point of interest.  I almost wish I could have viewed the show from multiple positions to get the full effect (not that I am complaining).

The most surprising twist of the night was the ABSENCE of "Closer" from the set list. Not sure if Trent has finally decided to retire the track, or if he was just thinking of his two young boys hanging out back stage and fearful that they may pick up a new phrase or two? I somehow doubt it, considering FIST FUCK was still shouted out at the top of his lungs during "Wish". There were still plenty of crowd pleasers, alongside "Wish" which, honestly, I would love if he would retire. At this point in my nine inch nails concert attendance, there are a few tracks I would prefer to hear over the "Greatest Hits". The great thing is, it looks like Trent and the Boys (plus some LADIES) are back and we might get lucky a little more often.

Copy of a
Terrible Lie
March of the Pigs
Reptile All Time Low(Closer mash up)
Came Back Haunted
Find a Way
Into the Void
Big Comedown 
In two
A Warm Place 
Somewhat Damaged
Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole
I'm Afraid of Americans
While I'm Still Here