Sunday, March 12, 2000

Apple gives avid fans a mesmerizing show

Enquirer contributor

        Air traffic controllers have it easy; the most stressful job today has to be that of a sound engineer on Fiona Apple's tour.

        Having recently cut short a show in New York because of her frustration with the concert hall's sound quality, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter demands her live performances meet the lush production of her albums. Thursday night the old Taft Theatre obliged, and Ms. Apple in turn delivered a mesmerizing performance.

        In 1996, Fiona Apple burst onto the music scene with Tidal, a critical and commercial success whose maturity revealed her precocious talents. While that debut was a pleasant surprise, Ms. Apple's sophomore effort, When the Pawn ... is a stunning stroke of brilliance.

        With its refreshingly thoughtful lyrics, breathtaking tempo changes and her trademark smoky vocals, the harder-edged When the Pawn ... was the focus of her Cincinnati appearance. In all Ms. Apple blazed through 16 songs, including all 10 selections from When the Pawn ...

        Half the night found Ms. Apple behind her piano, the other half at center stage dancing frenetically while her five-member band handled the musical duties. The young audience screamed their approval of Ms. Apple's every move, had almost every lyric memorized and shouted all the louder during “I Know,” “Carrion” and other quieter selections.

        Fiona Apple's most exciting work Thursday evening came in the form of the uptempo rock selections “Limp,” “Get Gone” and “Fast as You Can.” But perhaps her finest effort was reserved for the beautiful ballad “Paper Bag”.

        Ms. Apple's young life has apparently seen a fair share of misery, yet she somehow conveys those feelings in the most picturesque manner. In “Paper Bag” she sings of her dashed dreams, “... The dove of hope began its downward slope/And I believed for a moment that my chances/Were approaching to be grabbed/But as it came down near, so did a weary tear — I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag.”

        How many songwriters can wrap lyrics like that in an irresistible melody even one time? Fiona Apple gave her faithful fans 80 minutes worth of such music Thursday night.

        Opening act Jurassic 5 provided quite a contrast to Ms. Apple with its lively, 30-minute set of hip-hop that featured, of all things, a sample of the theme song from All in the Family.


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