The Wiltern, November 26
Who was the real prince who awoke sleeping-beauty Fiona Apple from her six-year slumber and brought her back down to Earth? Was it producer Mike Elizondo, who (along with Brian Kehew) added fullness and heft to most of the tracks on Apple’s enchanting comeback, Extraordinary Machine? Or was it Largo fixture Jon Brion, who produced two of the CD’s songs, and whose unmixed earlier incarnation of the album, with its charming old-world filigrees, caused such a fuss after being leaked on the Internet? At the Wiltern, it didn’t really matter: Fiona Apple was her own hero, filling the lofty reaches of the grand old theater with glorious romantic wallowing, and we were welcome to wallow along too.
“Here’s my thing,” she told the crowd. “I don’t do much talking anymore — you’d thank me if you knew.” She managed to turn her most intimate confessions of love and heartbreak into the stuff of great, big universal tragedy, even as many of her pent-up fans contrastingly screamed in adoration like teenyboppers. She vowed to “kill what I cannot catch” on the smart-stepping opener, “Get Him Back,” and the tall, exaggerated shadows of her deft backup group danced on the wall like spindly spiders, appropriately enough, on “Shadowboxer.” Wearing a floor-length, deep-blue ballroom gown, Apple came out from behind her baby grand for “Sleep To Dream,” then swooned against it for support during the febrile sway of “Limp.” She was back on piano for “On the Bound,” rattling stormy, seasick exchanges with keyboardists Jebin Bruni and Dave Palmer. Even on somber songs like the hauntingly reproachful “O’ Sailor” and “Red Red Red,” where she scorns somebody’s diamonds, Apple couldn’t hide her joy at performing again, exuberantly kicking up the unruly folds of her long prom dress in time to the music.
“I’m good at being uncomfortable, so I can’t stop changing all the time,” she warned on the first song of the encore, the poppy and sprightly “Extraordinary Machine.” She seemed to be saying, “Don’t count on me too much,” but her fans would have none of it. “Want some junk food? Here’s some junk food,” she said to introduce “Criminal,” but it was the night’s last song, a solo version of the new album’s “Parting Gift,” that tasted sweetest. As her spare piano murmured in assent, she intoned soothingly: “It ended bad, but I love what we started.”