Eccentric vegan songstress Fiona Apple is currently touring with a unique concept show titled 'Anything We Want,' dual-billed with her longtime guitarist Blake Mills. Appearing on stage silently at the Colonial Theater in Boston on October 23, Apple begins by aggressively, even rhythmically, scrawling the words "Teach me how to be free" onto a chalkboard.
What follows is a delightfully bizarre and intimate stage show that, despite a consistent setlist, feels refreshingly spontaneous. Rather than having Apple and Mills perform separate sets, the two banter and shift between each others' songs, often lending vocal harmony during their time outside the spotlight.
Apple's vocals are impeccable. The unique tonal quality coupled with extreme breath control allows her to wrap her voice around and through a melody amorphously. This quality was seen most apparently on her rousing performance of "Dull Tool," an unreleased track. The audience loudly cheered while Fiona shifted from near-whisper to abrasive vulgar screams without appearing to exert any effort.
Adding to the engaging nature of her vocal styling is Apple's absolutely bizarre stage presence. She hops, sways, giggles, crouches, and routinely balances on one foot, often rotating the elevated ankle. Between songs, she tells uncomfortable but endearing anecdotes. Early in the show she detailed the philandering ways of her father in relation to her conception after which coyly announcing, "I love you, daddy." She occasionally appeared to be speaking to herself, absorbed in her own universe.
Apple's artistic diversity was on full display throughout the night. From the experimental, percussive "Every Single Night" to a cover of Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe," the small backing band served her vocals perfectly with deep grooves and complex yet unobtrusive melodic structures.
Blake Mills provides the perfect counterpoint to Fiona's mania with his naturally understated personality. His bluesy guitar riffs and smoky vocals soared to their highest point on "Seven," a duet with Apple. But Mills held his own on the solo material, such as his well-received "It'll All Work Out," despite the mild distraction Apple proved to be while wrapping her body around a drum and bouncing as he performed.
At under two hours with no encore, the pair didn't overstay their welcome. In fact, they left the crowd longing for just a little more. "You're the bitch!" screeched one enthusiastic member. Fiona put her hands on her hips, broke a sardonic smile and mildly declared, "Why, yes, I am."