While on a brief run of shows that will see her headline Terminal 5 and The Wellmont Theater, the mercurial songstress Fiona Apple continued her swing northward with a stop at the regal Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. A light shower made the streets and sign posts gleam while welcoming in the large majority of those came out i.e. older couples who couldn’t name a song of Apple’s, but could afford the $100+ orchestra seats, and young women who dragged their boyfriends to the show and allowed them to get shit-faced as recompense. More on that later.
Show opener Blake Mills, who doubles as Apple’s touring guitarist, led his three piece group, also in Apple’s band, through a delicate yet powerful set with dreamy, guitar-driven songs and instrumentals.
“Thank you for your patience,” said Mills to the masses who respectfully offered up a hushed space with which to work. The opener ended with a cover, Santos y Johnny’s “Sleepwalk”, which put Mills’ wonderful slide techniques on full display.
After a 20 minute or so intermission Fiona Apple took the stage leading off with two When The Pawn… scorchers with the blazing “Fast As You Can” and the slow burn of “On The Bound”. The acoustics of the recently renovated Count Basie were tested to their fullest as Apple ran the gamut of vocal scales turning on a dime from full bodied screaming to throat tightened yelps. Alternating behind her piano on the left side of the stage and her solo mic at the center, Apple made little to no small talk with the crowd aside from a hard to make out anecdote about her father and the beach, likely to the disappointment of some looking for a meltdown.
Much of the new The Idler Wheel… material was met with a large, favorable response from young twenty somethings, proving that Apple’s seven year studio hiatus hasn’t deterred her from making fresh crops of new fans. Here’s hoping that tracks like the hauntingly nostalgic love story in “Anything We Want” and the tame to wild “Daredevil” are featured as setlist staples for Fiona’s foreseeable future.
The theater setting lent it itself more than venerably to Apple’s show with the take from that give stemming from the booming echoes available to a fair amount of assholes who either had entirely too much to drink on a Monday night or no respect for the powerful quiet moments which were not set in place for “Ole’, Ole'” chants. Much to Apple’s credit, she never gave the interruptions any consideration with maybe one holler catching her off guard into a giggle.
On song 17 of the evening Apple closed the show minus an official encore with an arresting cover of Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe”. With that the house lights came on and the throngs made their way back out onto the wet, shimmering streets with the collective thought of, “Oh shit it’s only Monday,” reverberating all around.
A post script credit goes out to whoever booked and brought someone like Fiona Apple to such an aesthetically improved and great sounding venue. Now just rip up those expensive orchestra seats and get some good contemporary general admission shows going.
A Very Interested Party