After nearly five years away from stages outside of Los Angeles, Fiona Apple made her comeback at SXSW in Austin, TX on Wednesday night, treating fans to a set of hits as well as three new songs from her (hopefully) soon to be released new album.
Opening with "Fast As You Can," hopeful exhilaration turned to concerned bewilderment as Fiona only sang only about sixty percent of the lyrics. Clearly overwhelmed with anxiety and battling stage fright, the gaunt songstress was a bundle of nervous energy and furious intensity.
She caught a stronger stride over the course of the next several songs, coming more out of her shell after screaming "You're not real!" out to the audience in a moment of humorous awkward tension. That's a nice way of saying she seems more batshit crazy than ever.
Apple's trademark shimmering vibrato came into full light with the new song "Anything We Want," a gentle-stepping, mostly two-chord pendulum that doesn't quite qualify as a ballad. It's a promising little love-reaffirming – watch below:
Two more new songs were played, "Valentine" – a sparse, remorseful piece with piano and drums. Thunder begins in what seems to be the prechorus, with the chorus taking full bright stride. The track was very warmly received, as was "Every Single Night," the third and final new song.
Her frantic mannerisms and painfully thin visual depiction aside, Apple's presence onstage was a thrilling experience for any fan at Stubb's on Wednesday night, a reminder of the enigmatic oddity of the singer's lovetorn outpourings.
She closed with an impassioned rendition of her signature hit "Criminal," before ending the night with a delicate & loose cover of the Beatles' "Across The Universe".
Here's the full setlist:
Fast As You Can
On the Bound
Anything We Want (new song)
Valentine (new song)
Sleep to Dream
Every Single Night (new song)
Across The Universe
Apple’s new album is on track for a June release via Epic Records. She'll play again at South by Southwest tomorrow night, followed by a series of East coast dates.
Photo by Johnny Firecloud