Was Fiona Apple “Horrendous” In Philadelphia Performance?

Or was she “a creative genius”?

fiona

On Saturday night, Fiona Apple and her longtime collaborator Blake Mills brought their much-anticipated Anything We Want tour to Philadelphia’s Merriam Theatre. This was not a show for fair-weather Fiona fans who wanted to hear her “greatest hits”, as she didn’t touch material like “Criminal”, “Extraordinary Machine”, or her 2012 song “Hot Knife”, the latter made popular by this mesmerizing video released earlier this year:


It also wasn't a show for concertgoers used to having their cell phones out for a majority of the show for videos, photos and social media-mania. As the house lights dimmed, an announcer asked that all electronic devices be turned off. Most fans complied. Those who did not were approached by members of the security staff.

I applaud Apple's decision to keep the show cell phone-free. These days, it seems that most fans have their glowing phones out for a majority of the show. It's distracting, especially at an intimate show like the one given by the 36-year-old Apple.

Now if she could just do something about the fans who insist on shouting out song requests, "I love You"s, and other unwanted exclamations that similarly spoil the mood of the room. Of course, those overexcited fans are at least better than the pair of wine-drunk "women" who sat in row R immediately behind me and DIDN'T SHUT UP FOR THE ENTIRE SHOW.

Who are these people and why do they think its OK to cackle, chatter and otherwise demonstrate their obnoxiousness? It's a terrible photo, but if you see these women sitting anywhere near you at a concert that you want to actually pay attention to, just leave.

girls940

Apple may have scored a standing ovation for the encore-free show, but it was pretty clear from some of the conversations I overheard and from some of the folks I spoke with after the show that the opinions were actually pretty mixed.

Here's a sampling:

"Well, that was horrendous. I guess they were all songs from her last album."

"Fiona Apple and Blake Mills just gave Philly the business. Whoa... It was pretty phenomenal. A particular treat that I can't seem to get out of my mind was when they did Conway Twitty's 'Make Believe.' Holy shit man."

"The sound was awful."

(I wouldn't necessarily agree that it was awful, but it was pretty bad at times. Way too much low end. When it was just Apple and Mills, it was alright, but when they were joined by the upright bassist and the drummer, those instruments unfortunately overwhelmed Apple's nuanced voice.)

"Anyone who didn't like it just doesn't get it. She is a creative genius."

"I didn't like Blake Mills at all. Way too much country-ness. And the whole thing seemed too rehearsed. It wasn't impulsive, which is what I dig about her. And the sound sucked."

"Raw. Spare. Explosive. Transcendent." - WXPN Review

And Twitter was pretty unanimous:

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • annieheckenberger

    Her mic selection was poor. Both the standing mic and piano mic. Her techs didn’t do her a solid. Beyond that, can we examine YTF people feel the need to yell out at her shows? We know she’s fragile. We know she has a tendency to walk off if she’s not feeling it. Yelling out commentary or your obsession with her isn’t helping. It’s really not. Beyond that, I was startled at how uncomfortable she continues to be on stage.

    • dana

      i was also struck by her uncomfortable stage presence

      • Megmegmeg

        I am startled by some people’s stupidity and lack of compassion. Let her be herself! She’s a true artist-and one of the few these days.

  • Rocky

    I am a die-hard Fiona fan (going back to the origin of Free Fiona), and this… was not what I was expecting. I had a feeling the concert was going to be more about exploring a new creative space for her, but I had no idea it was going to be so much about Blake Mills. The man slaughters any stringed instrument, no doubt. However, I was only let down because I came in with expectations. And like a dog waiting for even the smallest piece of flesh or bone, I devoured the few-but-absolutely-delicious moments of Fiona doing her own stuff. I am just hopeful that this new area of music will still remain true to her “brand”… whatever in the hell THAT is.

    As for Fiona’s “uncomfortableness” on stage, that is her. And it’s the reason that room was filled with people who would kill for her. She lays herself on the stage every night. It’s sacred to many of us.

  • Courtney Newman

    I saw her in DC and loved it. This wasn’t promoted as a Fiona show, it was a co headlining show with Blake so I wasn’t expecting it to be all Fiona and no Blake. Fiona previously did a headlining show with just her where she did all her well known songs promoting her last album, which I saw. Why would I want to go and see the same thing I already saw? She wanted to do another kind of tour which I personally thought was great.