With the Empire State Building peeking over her shoulder, Fiona Apple delivered a raw, temperamental, and at times disturbing performance at The Standard Hotel's Boom Boom Room in New York Monday night. Apple walked out in a predictable outfit (fact: my colleague predicted it) defined by its severity -- a shock of bottle-red hair, combat boots and a skin-tight black dress clinging to her impossibly small waist. Gravelly voiced (though no worse for the wear) and wild-eyed, Apple made her way through a five-song set, consisting of older hits, save one song off her new album, "Anything We Want."
Apple's first album in seven years -- The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do -- dropped to rave reviews Tuesday. Perhaps fittingly, the prose used to describe Idler Wheel could just as easily apply to Apple's performance. Allison Stewart of The Washington Post found her "acoustic ballads with bared teeth, draped over skeleton frames of piano and oddball percussion" to be raw to the point of reveling "in [their] dissonance -- to a perverse extent."
With alternately jerky and seductive posturing, Apple pulled the Boom Boom Room as close to her as she did keep it at a distance --while violently emotional and present throughout her set, the 34-year-old artist felt as far away as ever.
Watch Apple perform "Anything We Want":
Watch Apple perform "Fast As You Can," and note the blinding series of flashes coming from the audience. Fiona told us it was OK, though. She would "just have a seizure":