Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Apple Of My Ear

My wife snagged tickets to Fiona Apple and Damien Rice at the Greek Theatre this weekend. Yes, it was big fun. Even before the concert began it was great to be out among people dressed for a concert... a potent reminder that I need to get out more, which is why I'm writing this at a Starbucks instead of at work.

Well, Rice first, then Apple. I wonder if they had that in mind when they were booking? If Meat Loaf had been available... anyway, that Damien Rice fellow is mighty emo, isn't he? Not saying that he doesn't rock out, because he makes an effort to and succeeds. But he seemed most effective when he was quietest. Just him, an acoustic guitar and the mic without the built-in distortion effect. I confess I wasn't that familiar with his work aside from the single THE BLOWER'S DAUGHTER, but it's okay because there were plenty of Rice-heads around us. It was odd to see an act so folky ending the set with a song featuring so many loops that the whole band was able to exit while it still played. Hell, they may have been back on the bus playing DOOM 3 by the time it finally shut down.

Then came Fiona. Sitting behind a piano in a long white... nightgown? ... she is a surprisingly geeky presence. She has a little plastic giraffe on her piano, next to one of those Office Depot EASY buttons. She displays hyperactive body language, spazzing out during the instrumentals. If the instrumental is long enough, she curls into a fetal position behind the piano and buries her face in her arms. The lighting cues include complete blackouts between songs, as if they were scenes.

The music is flawless. The dark bluesy chords, the self-loathing lyrics, all are crisp and intelligible. Fiona's face is a roadmap of pain. Even when she gave her goofy little wave to the crowd at the start of the show, she seemed a little sad about it. I like Fiona because of her darkness. In concert her quirks are a little distracting, but they seem sincere. They appear to be real quirks and not affectations. Watching her I wonder if she is a junkie, but the show is too tight for that.

As a side note, I realized that nowadays almost anyone can throw together an episode of Don Kirsher's Rock Concert. Not sure how I feel about that.

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