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All photos: Katherine Gaines, Ryan Kelly — All words: Ryan Kelly

The first thing you notice watching Fiona Apple take the stage after six years off is how confident and self-assured she seems this go-round.

Okay, okay…let’s get this out of the way off the bat: perhaps the actual initial impression isn’t of her newfound confidence and self-assurance on-stage, but rather one of mild shock at how much skinnier the already thin, famously vegan songstress is looking these days. The dramatic lighting wasn’t doing her any favors, contributing to her gaunt appearance, and no fewer than three safety pins were helping her jersey dress hew to her slight frame.

Anyhow, once you get beyond that–and her flawless, unapologetic, energetic performance demanded that you did–the Fiona in her 30s seems to be on top of her game. The younger version of her was notorious for shows riddled with false starts, exasperation, apologies and tears. Basically, she was Cat Power with a bigger crowd.

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This Fiona was happy to joke with her band mates and the first few rows of the audience throughout the show, give an appletini birthday toast to Courtney from the merch table, and had total command of her voice, piano, and the crowd. When the band seemed to have different ideas on the second song, she went with it and sat back down at the piano she had just left. When a family walked in about midway through the show and clumsily shuffled to the middle of an orchestral row *mid-song,* everyone noticed–including Fiona…but no beat was skipped and no words were said, other than the impressively complicated ones already in the process of being delivered.

All the exasperation, all the pain, all the insecurity Tuesday night came from Fiona’s emotive brand of performance, where the elation, heartache and pain of past relationships, insecurities, mistreatment, breakups and finally perseverance are borne out on stage for all those present to see, hear and sometimes feel.

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Songs like “Not About Love” and “Extraordinary Machine” veer from lightheartedness to roaring insistence, drop into a melancholy self-awareness and loop back again in the span of a minute. Fiona Apple is not the type of performer who could sing a sad song in an upbeat or unemotional way. She gives a raw, emotional performance with an edge that pairs well with her voice. Combined with her skeletal frame and her intensely wide, bright blue eyes, you’re not sure if you’re witnessing a genius performance or a manic episode. What you are sure of is you can’t turn away.

Fast As You Can
On The Bound
Paper Bag
Anything We Want
Get Gone
Sleep To Dream
Extraordinary Machine
Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
I Know
Every Single Night
Not About Love

It’s Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty Cover)

  • Ryan’s shots

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  • Katherine’s shots

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