By Zachary Swickey
HOLLYWOOD – in a lot of ways, Fiona Apple is not all that different from Leonardo DiCaprio, who seems to be one of the only actors in Hollywood today that embodies the vintage charm of yesteryear cinema. Likewise Apple is a rare gem in today’s music scene and would’ve fit in perfectly in the musical heyday of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Jopin and John Lennon. She showcased this wonderfully Sunday night (July 29) at the Hollywood Palladium.
The show marked Apple’s final performance on the first leg of the tour behind her recently released The Idler Wheel…. Backed by a four-piece band and eight multi-color lights that resembled oversized living room lamps, Apple kicked things off for a sold-out crowd of over 4,000 adoring fans – including “Knocked Up” director Judd Apatow – on the piano with the lively, erratic number “Fast As You Can” from her heralded ’99 effort When the Pawn….
As soon as the song ended, Apple apologized for her slight, 30-minute tardiness. “I’m sorry I was late. I don’t really have an excuse… I was just nervous,” she coyly admitted.
Fans erupted into cheers as Apple began tickling the ivories to “Shadow Boxer” – a classic track from her debut ’96 album Tidal. Surprisingly, the set was five songs in before any Idler Wheel material was played – the first song being “Anything We Want,” which received a warm, enthusiastic response. A casual fan wouldn’t have even known it’s a newer song since everyone sang along to every word.
“Sleep to Dream” was a particular treat as Apple – donning a lovely violet dress and red scarf – got up from her piano to front the microphone. The song featured a rather out-of-nowhere guitar solo that was exceptionally awesome and unexpected as the guitarist shredded away with insane technical precision. Apple’s female drummer had the mannerisms of the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and the keyboardist bore a striking resemblance to Jim James of My Morning Jacket (hey, maybe they’re cousins?).
The night’s set was particularly light on material from Apple’s amazing 2005 album Extraordinary Machine. However, the when she finally performed the album’s title track, it could not have been more beautiful. The song had a more lullaby-esque charm to it as Apple seemed to channel the scene in “Snow White” where she sings to the birds in the most angelic of voices.
Apple showed some more love for her newest album by performing a somber-but-moving rendition of “Werewolf” and a lively, rockin’ version of “Daredevil,” which had her providing additional percussion with a deep, bass-y floor tom.
The slowest moment of the night came during “I Know,” which showcased Apple’s soulful soothing coo. Unsurprisingly, “Criminal” may have gotten the loudest response from the crowd, but it was the night’s closing number – a cover of Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” – that was the most magical moment of the show.
The second leg of Apple’s lengthy tour kicks off September 9 in San Jose, California. Do yourself a favor and witness her amazing performance if she comes through your town.