Fiona Apple Polishes Up Her Act With Less Talk
Boston Herald   
Feb 26, '00

by Sarah Rodman

Fiona Apple at the Orpheum Theatre, Boston, last night.

It was a 180-degree turnabout for Fiona Apple last night at the Orpheum Theatre.

The last two times the gifted singer-songwriter played this venue it seemed as if she were physically incapable of corking a constant stream of babbling punctuated by ``likes'' and ``you knows'' and awkward phrasing. Last night, the diminutive 22-year-old kept throwing up her hands between her enthusiastically rendered piano rockers and exclaiming, ``I don't have anything to say.'' The artist herself admitted this was something of a novelty for her since on her last tour, ``I think I did a little bit too much talking.''

The lack of chatter was a boon to Apple's stellar and compact 90-minute set. Splitting her time seated at her piano and moving rhythmically around her center stage mike stand, Apple performed all of the tracks from her superb sophomore release ``When the Pawn'' and a quartet of tracks from her multiplatinum 1996 debut ``Tidal'' played with obvious enjoyment by her sharp five-man band, anchored handily by drummer Matt Chamberlain. 

It was Chamberlain who put the swiveling strut into opener ``On the Bound,'' the swagger into the roiling ``Criminal'' and the funky spine into her closing number, a feisty cover of Bill Withers' ``Kissing My Love.''

But each member of the team contributed mightily. Apple herself was in dusky good voice emphatically punching out the lyrics of ``To Your Love'' and gliding through the moody blues of ``Sullen Girl.''

The emasculating ``Limp'' was a three-stage attack with Apple ratcheting up the tension as she worked from the song's slow, bubbling open through its explosive midsection and the attacking chorus and cycling over and over. ``Get Gone,'' the new album's stand-out track, was a marvel of Ben Folds-like piano trills, whimsical breaks and expletive-laced bursts at an errant lover. 

Guitarist Michael Lockwood added strafing industrial licks to the propulsive hit ``Sleep to Dream,'' liquid jazz grooves to ``Carrion'' and caffeinated jitter to ``Fast as You Can.'' Both vibist Joe Smith and keyboardist Jebin Bruin did their part adding delicate watercolor strokes to ``Sullen Girl'' and swing to ``Paper Bag.''

The sold-out crowd - which included Apple's boyfriend ``Magnolia'', ``Boogie Nights'' director Paul Thomas Anderson - stood throughout the show, the women especially cheering wildly for Apple's lacerating lyrics that admit vulnerability, steely strength, anger, fear, joy and a lot of experience in a short lifetime. And if anyone missed the chatty Apple of old they didn't show it. 

Jurassic Five opened with a short but spirited set of its fast-talking hip hop.