Fiona Apple at the Peabody Opera House, 7/14/12: Review, Photos and Setlist

Kholood Eid
Then she's back at center stage for the churning "Paper Bag" (When the Pawn...) arguably her most famous song not titled "Criminal," and it's lauded in kind by the audience -- but then, they're lauding every song, movement, whisper. "Paper Bag" straddles extreme falsettos and crushing, deep, mournful cries (growls?), all of which Apple belts with heartbreaking soul, accompanied by jerky, stumbling dance. Four songs into the set she finally tenders some The Idler Wheel... with "Anything We Want," a mesmerizing break that waxes a sunnier brand of romance. The trip forward is brief; soon it's back to When the Pawn... with gloomy, conversational "Get Gone." Delving even deeper, Apple cuts through the next song, "Sleep to Dream" (Tidal), like a machete through tall grass. Fully inhabiting and taking the shape of each song she spouts is distraction enough from the small nervous habits she also fully inhabits on stage -- Playing with her long, messy hair, unfurling it like a curtain around her slight frame, tightly fastening it in ponytails; exchanging her dark rimmed glasses between every other song; dancing on her toes like a possessed ballerina.

"Extraordinary Machine" from the album of the same name (2005) rouses the crowd with its calculated buoyancy, with Apple channeling Judy Garland on high notes, Billie Holiday on the low. The band -- Mills, Steinberg, Wood, Rae -- are exceptional, too, clear, crisp and enhance the turbulent tide of Apple's vocals. Glimpses of The Idler Wheel... return with "Werewolf" (found-sound included) alternating with "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)" from Extraordinary Machine, then back with "Daredevil" followed by the closing track from When the Pawn..., "I Know."

The last new cut is "Every Single Night," the first single from The Idler Wheel..., a riff of experimental vocals with a stirring hook. The final three songs of an already fan-focused set come in quick succession and to much sensation: "Not About Love," (Extraordinary Machine) with Apple back on piano, a triumphant, stormy charge; "Carrion," (Tidal) a darker, more solemn mood that edges into "Criminal," (Tidal) the song that put her on the map in 1996 and a song that could feel boilerplate if it were anyone else's. For the first time Apple removes the mic from its stand, curling the chord with her fingers, sauntering about in the spotlight, clocking a forceful, almost antagonistic rendition of the redemption song.

All evening she has been short on small talk and crowd banter -- that didn't keep the crowd from bantering with her, though -- and as "Criminal" reached its feverish, retching end, she asks the crowd to, "Pretend it's two minutes in the future," and explained that she and her band don't leave the stage for their encore. Her parting gift for the evening was a cover of Conway Twitty's "My One and Only You," a sweet ballad that Apple begins softly, then roars to a close. A soul-filled extended guitar solo by Blake Mills leaves the crowd rapt in attention -- if only it'd been a full house for his set -- and Fiona Apple's undeniable preternatural pipes pluck the song to a close. Cut to the singer throwing in a bit of writhing on the floor, maybe just for old time's sake, and she exits, leaving a stunned and empathetic audience in her wake.

Kholood Eid
Fast As You Can
On the Bound
Paper Bag
Anything We Want
Get Gone
Sleep to Dream
Extraordinary Machine
Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
I Know
Every Single Night
Not About Love
My One and Only You (Conway Twitty cover)

Location Info


Peabody Opera House

1400 Market St, St. Louis, MO

Category: Music

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