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)

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