Fiona Apple sang to a sold-out crowd (rumored to be around 750 of us) at Boston Royale on Tuesday, the first time she has performed in Boston since August 18, 2007 (which Holly and I attended, and which was the last concert she and I went to before Avery was born 22 days later).
So that Fiona show has always been a special one, but this Fiona show, where I was front row and smashed against the stage barrier, close enough to touch her if I stood on my toes, may have been better.
The set was solid, though short (about 80 minutes, give or take), and included three songs from her upcoming album The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (aka The Idler Wheel …). I had watched YouTube clips of the three songs — Valentine, Anything We Want (from the Boston gig), and Every Single Night — but the videos do not do the songs justice.
We also got staples from her oeuvre, which goes back to 1996, when Tidal came out. I’d love to know if she still connects with those songs, or to the girl who wrote and sang those songs. And Fiona was playful, if slightly restrained, but shared with us that she was a mistake, or her conception, which occurred in Boston, was a mistake. A funny story, and not one I think I knew.
Fiona and her opener (Blake Mills and Sebastian Steinberg, two members of her four-member band) separately complained about the number of people talking during the songs. Which they were. Loudly and rudely. Fiona gestured to the sound equipment she was wearing and said that it picked up everything, and thanks for that. Again. People talking. Loudly and rudely. While Fiona was singing and playing.
And my friends and I blame these loud talkers for a last-minute substitute in the set.
Instead of closing with Across the Universe, which was written on the set list, Fiona closed with It’s Only Make Believe, a Conway Twitter cover. Then she said goodbye, left the stage, and didn’t come back. Only after the stage was about 30% broken down, and the house lights were up, did the crowd stop yelling and clapping and demanding “one more song.” But by then, I imagine, Fiona and her band were gone.