the loud bassoon concert scene

Fiona Apple & Jurassic 5 @ Riviera, Chicago, USA
11 March 2000

I think lots of people must have been wondering whether Fiona would have any sort of breakdown onstage at the Riv, but fortunately (or unfortunately, if you like that sort of thing) she simply came out and played a rock solid set consisting mainly of the When the Pawn album, which if you do not own, you shortly must. It is a fantastic album, and she played all the songs off of it tonight plus four from her debut CD Tidal.

The crowd was, unsurprisingly, quite rabid, and it was actually difficult to see Fiona because of the crowd crush toward wherever she happened to be onstage. They're a devoted bunch, these Fiona fans. When she was seated at her baby grand, she was all but impossible to see from my vantage point on the opposite side of the stage, and when she took stage center it was only marginally easier.

That was part of the excitement, and it was also pretty annoying, since most of the songs sounded just like they do on the CD. But still, it was great to catch a real artist on the rise. If her albums continue to get exponentially better (as When the Pawn leapt past Tidal) and/or she doesn't kill herself, she'll be one of the best songwriters ever. Stage presence was engaging, though not remarkable – not being a diehard I was not moved to scream at every movement and remark.

I was surprised that her speaking voice is so squeaky since her singing voice is so rich and amazing. But at any rate, when she was singing it was truly a thing to behold. As much as critics want to dismiss her, she's not a flash in the pan, even though she has no problem shooting herself in both feet every chance she gets.

The set-list was good, surprisingly avoiding both "Never is a Promise" and "Shadowboxer" off the first album. The high points for me were "The Way Things Are" (fave song off the new album) and "Carrion." The whole show was really good. She encored with a weird but really accomplished "Just One of Those Things" (the Cole Porter tune) sung to a big-band backing track, and then a groovy white-weirdo-crunge-up of "Kissing My Love" by Bill Withers. It was a good high point to go out on.

Opening the show, by the way, was Jurassic 5, who were fantastic. They were brief, but very effective in the opening slot, managing to get a crowd of, as far as I could tell, 100% white, 97% teenagers, quite excited about ol-school hip-hop.

This set was a treat, because I had no idea going into the show that they were opening, so it was a huge and very welcome surprise. Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark even got a bit of turntablist jamming in when the 4 MC's let them at it for a few minutes. Quite good. Can't wait for their full-length CD coming soon.

All told, a good night out with the always enjoyable SIC as musical companion and verbal sparring partner. We decided that the only way it could have been better would have been for Fiona to close the show with "Cum on Feel the Noize" but I suppose that was just pure fantasy to begin with.

Setlist, courtesy

On the Bound
To Your Love
Sullen Girl
Paper Bag
Get Gone
Love Ridden
Sleep to Dream
The Way Things Are
I Know
A Mistake
Fast As You Can
- - -
Just One of Those Things
Kissing My Love

Review by Tyson Daley