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Concert Reviews:
Fiona Apple lets the music do the talking at the Fillmore

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2012

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DETROIT -- There was a time when Fiona Apple was indeed the "bad, bad girl" she sings about in her hit, "Criminal." There were erratic outbursts, both onstage and off, and life events that sometimes lived up to the angsty drama of her lyrics.

But on Saturday night, July 7, at the Fillmore Detroit, the songstress was a model of decorum and professionalism. You could almost count the word she said during her 85-minute show on both hands. She didn't even introduce the four members of her band, letting guitarist Blake Mills do that as he brought each of them on to play during his opening set.

Instead Apple and company letting the music do the talking, plowing resolutely through the 17-song set, offering up careful and often spacious arrangements that particularly gave Mills room to stretch out and invent parts that changed the tenor of many of the tunes. That was especially true of the five songs drawn from Apple's latest album, "The Idler Wheel...;" the cabaret feel of "Daredevil" had a little more bite, while "Anything We Want" became a bit more ambient and warbly than the recorded version.

Apple -- who spent most of the night out front rather than on piano, and a good amount of time writhing on the stage floor -- spread the set list wealth throughout her career. She gave her 1996 debut "Tidal" as much weight as "The Idler Wheel..." to the delight of fans wanting to hear established totems such as "Sleep To Dream," "Shadowboxer" and "Criminal," as well as the rolling groove and jazzy countenance of "Carrion." She also cherry-picked favorites such as "Paper Bag," "On the Bound," the show-opening "Fast As You Can" and the title track to "Extraordinary Machine" and an idiosyncratic, barely-hinged rendition of "Not About Love."

Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe" -- which Apple introduced as the encore without actually leaving the stage, -- brought the show to an interesting end. Was this the new model Apple, or was she just trying on a different kind of guise? In either event, both the songs and the performances were adventurous enough compensate for any of the missing "extras" of her past.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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