It seems like forever since the world saw Fiona Apple last (six years to be exact). With the release of her new album, “ The Idler Wheel,” Fiona has hit the road in support of her new record. Luckily, she had a tour date in Ithaca, NY at the State Theater (about an hour away from me), and I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the show; heat wave be damned, I was going to this show. It was totally worth it.
I was hoping that walking into the theater would be a relief from the 90-degree weather outside (was praying for air conditioning) but, unfortunately, that was not the case. The opening act was Fiona Apple’s own guitar player, Blake Mills. Mills had a sound that was nothing like his Fiona. His soothing blues-style almost put me to sleep, but not because it was boring. Once again, I blame the heat. I was so relaxed and enjoying the music that I felt like taking a nap. I would suggest checking out his music when you’re not sitting in the middle of a crowded 100-degree theater if you enjoy blues-rock. The best part of his set was when he closed up the soulful set with a song from LaBamba. The crowd was pleased with the classic throwback. Even my partner-in-crime for the night was caught saying, “I love this song.”
After a few minutes of rearranging the stage, it was time for the main act. As we waited, I couldn’t help but notice how many different age groups were in the theater. Behind us were a young father and his daughter, who looked like she could not be any older than five. Ahead of us were young women in their mid-twenties who were next to a middle-aged couple who were definitely enjoying their time by celebrating with a few drinks and dancing to the music playing in the background. I couldn’t help but smile at all the varying groups.
Finally, Fiona Apple came onto the stage accompanied by an amazing light show. She immediately burst into “Fast as You Can.” After the first song, she was definitely feeling the heat, too. She made sure to keep a comradeship with the audience, asking every few songs because of the temperature of the venue. After hearing a few old favorites, such as “Shadowboxer” and “Get Gone,” I was wondering if we were going to ever hear some new material from the album she was touring for. Finally, she played a couple songs I was a bit unfamiliar with (I assume they were new), but she never told us the name of any of the songs. She also played her lead single, “Every Single Night,” with such vigor that I thought she was going to fall over.
Throughout the set, even though Fiona made comments about the heat, she did not stop for more than a few seconds to cool herself off between songs. Her energy was always up, whether she was dancing to her song, or banging on a piano, the woman never missed a beat. By the last two songs, the heat was finally getting to Apple. After finishing her breakthrough single “Criminal,” she laid down on the floor in front of the fan. Myself and everyone else (including her band) thought she was down for the count when she didn’t get up. She managed to pick herself up off the floor and said she could do one more song. At the end of the night, we were all hot, sweaty, and happy for the great show we had just witnessed. Fiona Apple was definitely a performer who played with every bit of her body, from her head to her toes (she made a joke about how magazines will not let her be barefoot because of her bunions). Humble and energetic, this was definitely one of the better shows I’ve attended, and I hope it won’t be another six years until I see her again.