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Fiona Apple Is More Ferocious Than Ever

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 22, 2012 7:00PM

Fiona Apple returned to Chicago for the first time in six years to play two sold out shows at Lincoln Hall this week. When tickets went on sale the response was, let's say, extremely enthusiastic; read these comments and you'll agree with us. Expectations were high but, after so many years of silence would, Apple deliver? When artists of her stature play a room as intimate as Lincoln Hall it's to build buzz around a forthcoming album, in this case (take a deep breath now) The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do, and you always run the chance that they'll avoid the hits and lay heavily on new and unfamiliar material.

As Apple took the stage you could see she's grown older but she's still incredibly slight and carried herself like a timid sprite we worried that we were about to have to endure a touchy feely folky show. That vanished the second her drummer launched into "Fast As You Can" Apple exploded into jerky tics and ferocious gyrations. The amount of energy pouring out of her was staggering and as her arms flexed and her neck tensed it seemed as if it might be too much for her physical frame to endure. While the opening showed her voice to be a little raspy and strained it soon loosened up and roared out over the packed crowd in front of her. The set lasted only 55-minutes, but each second was packed with an intensity we rarely see in a live setting. Even a quieter number like "Paper Bag" seethed along leaving a smoldering wake as it carried through. And while she played three new tunes it was remarkable how well they fit alongside her older material. Apple has a tremendous talent with a singular voice that flows through all of her music so that it's difficult to differentiate a song's age merely by its sound

It's remarkable how Apple has changed emotionally over the years, though. At the beginning of her career she was remarkable because she was so young but sang songs about pain and passion far beyond her age. In retrospect the feelings there were raw and unrefined, and a little adolescent. As time has gone on, she's found a focus and now the rage seems to be somewhat directed inwardly for allowing herself to be hurt. And some of her power comes from her struggle to give honest voice to the whirlwind of emotions inside. And we think that resonates so deeply because we all feel things intensely, it's called being human, and we're all entranced with some try to give an honest and clear voice to that struggle.

It's even more remarkable to see it happening a few feet in front of you, making the air in front of your nose vibrate, keeping you focused and entranced throughout the whole affair. And we weren't the only ones; aside from a few photographer trying to discreetly snap a few shots with their SLRs the rest of the audience was oddly unaffected by the urge to capture every moment digitally. The light washing over the audience was coming from the stage and not from cellphones and it seemed everyone in the room realized that what they were witnessing was so unique that no reproduction would do it justice.