Fiona Apple at the Paramount Theatre, 7/20/12 (photos and review) - Reverb

Fiona Apple at the Paramount Theatre, 7/20/12 (photos and review)

If most performers brought the passion, energy and conviction to their music and concerts that Fiona Apple did on Friday night at the Paramount, the world would be a better place.

From the opening riff of “Fast As You Can,” Apple owned the stage with an endearing combination of determination and anger. This, coupled with a haunting emotional fragility and vulnerability, drew the audience in to make the performance mesmerizing. Such was Apple’s stage presence that it took the focus off the poor sound in the venue, which often made it hard to hear what Apple was singing.

Apple looked whip thin and coiled with manic energy throughout the show. After taking the stage, she said that “if you feel you need to leave because you are about to cry, just stay and cry.” It was unclear whether that was Apple’s response to the shooting in Aurora, or just her knowledge of how powerfully cathartic her performances can be. On “Anything We Want,” Apple pounded her right thigh with her right hand while grabbing her right arm behind her back with her left, as if she couldn’t bear to unleash what she needed to.

The audience ate up every note, every wail, throughout the night, singing along with many tunes, such as “Paper Bag,” and shouting plenty of declarations of love during quiet points between songs.

Though Apple is touring behind a new album, “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do,” (seriously), she didn’t make the entire show about her new material, sprinkling in three songs from the album in a very well-balanced set that showcased a variety of songs from her entire oeuvre. Of the new songs, perhaps the best was “Werewolf.”

Apple’s backing band stepped up throughout the night, particularly guitarist Blake Mills (who was also the opening act), who ripped strong solos on several songs, particularly on “Tymps (the Sick in the Head Song).” After the always heartfelt “Criminal,” Apple said it was the part of the show when she would normally leave the stage, but she couldn’t, so the encore happened right there, beginning with the jazzy, sultry “Carrion,” from her first album, and ending with an incendiary, heartfelt take on Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe,” on which Apple’s voice alternated between sultry, mellow verses and soaring highs on the chorus.

Setlist

Fast As You Can, On the Bound, Shadowboxer, Paper Bag, Anything We Want, Get Gone, Sleep to Dream, Extraordinary Machine, Werewolf, Tymps (the Sick in the Head Song), Daredevil, I Know, Every Single Night, Criminal, E: Carrion, Not About Love, It’s Only Make Believe

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.