Fiona Apple and Blake Mills give a moving performance at The Merriam Theater

Fiona Apple and Blake Mills | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.comAll photos by Chris Sikich |

Raw. Spare. Explosive. Transcendent. These are four words that come to mind when recalling the Fiona Apple and Blake Mills concert on Saturday night at the Merriam Theatre. Apple and her jazz-inflected vocals full of smoke and fire as paired with the guitar virtuoso Mills, who shifted from strains of classical to folk, country and blues, were a lustful symbiosis on stage. This is best exemplified in their new song “I Want You to Love Me,” with Apple tapping away at the piano while declaring her desires and Mills sitting on the other side of the stage, countering her keys with his strings. The song builds layer after layer of discord and harmony with these elements up to a frenzied crescendo. It was electrifying.

This electrical pulse flowed throughout their “Anything We Want” show, which is what they nicknamed the tour in honor of a song they do together and their attitude overall. If anyone hoped to get Apple’s bona fide hits like “Criminal,” they would have been disappointed. At this show, the new was on display — not just in content, but also in sound as the reliance on another voice for duets like the show’s opener, “Tipple.” The very simple staging with Apple and Mills bathed in white light while their accompanying percussionist (Barbara Gruska) and bass player (Sebastian Steinberg) were in the shadows of reds and blues also added a sense of intimacy that was given even more gravitas with the surroundings of a glorious 95-year-old theater in the Merriam.

After 2012’s masterful The Idler Wheel, Apple shows that her emotive palate is blossoming into a voice that is both ageless and inventive. And for a critic like myself, it is awesome to see how she has kept the magic evident on her debut Tidal woven into her recorded and live work. This critic first saw her promoting that album in 1997 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., in a theater steeped in history with herself and her piano at the forefront. Now she has opened up to even greater possibilities, as evidenced with her duets on songs with even a country heart — “Seven.”

The 90-minute show flew by with an audience rapt and full of love, showering her with flowers and reverent claps that echoed throughout the hallowed hall. It began with her unexpectedly writing on a chalkboard “Teach me how to be free, teach me how.” And despite her lack of direct interactions with the audience, beyond asking which of the three merch shirts they had she should don, picking up a bouquet of flowers left for her that she then cradled, and a few words before their finale of “Waltz (Better Than Fine),” she spoke with her music — a voice unlike any other not afraid to use her neck as percussion or her piano as a channel for the emotions that drive humans — love, lust, hate, regret and beyond.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Fiona Apple and Blake Mills at Merriam Theater, Oldermost at Boot & Saddle, Lee Fields and the Expressions at Arden Gild Hall and more


Fiona Apple and singer/songwriter Blake Mills bring their collaborative Anything We Want tour to Merriam theater tonight. Apple’s sultry vocals and damaged goods attitude should combine well with the innovative guitar stylings of Mills. The pair will unite on songs as well as perform their own individual music. Get tickets and more information on the show here.

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Just Announced: Fiona Apple and Blake Mills playing the Merriam Theater on 10/19


Fiona Apple and Blake Mills are changing things up a bit with a collaborative fall tour that stops in Philly at the Merriam Theater on October 19th.  Details are few and far between as the exact nature of the show is still in the planning stages, but they were asked to share a few hints:

1) We were sent an assignment to write three or four sentences.

2) These sentences should communicate that we, Fiona Apple & Blake Mills (that’s us), are doing a little tour as a duo.

3) We know it’ll be something special, and we aren’t being coy here — it’s just that we have about 26% of an idea of what the fuck we will be playing for you.

4) It was our understanding that the 4th sentence was optional, but here is something that is true: the uncertainty excites us.

While Fiona Apple continues to tour behind last year’s Idler Wheel…, former Simon Dawes (now Dawes) member and highly-sought-after collaborator Blake Mills will release his as-yet untitled sophomore solo record next year.  Together in concert, Apple and Mills will perform material from their respective catalogs as well as new songs written together.  Tickets for “Anything We Want: An Evening with Fiona Apple & Blake Mills” at the Merriam Theater on October 19th go on sale August 2nd; more information will be available here.  Below, watch Fiona Apple’s video for “Hot Knife” and Blake Mills’ video for “Don’t Tell Your Friends About Me.”

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Travel to distant destinations and get Fiona Apple hooks stuck in your head with Philly rapper Gilbere Forte

We’ve been following up-and-coming Philly-via-Michigan rapper Gilbere Forte for a bit now, so we were psyched to see his latest video pop up on yesterday. It’s called “Pray,” it’s based around a total earworm of a vocal hook from Fiona Apple’s “Every Single Night” and features a stunning video shot in verdant locations in some picturesque corner of the world. Check it out below.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dave Matthews Band, Fiona Apple, Hezekiah Jones, and Motion City Soundtrack

The second night of the Dave Matthews Band’s‘s residency is tonight at the Susquehanna Bank Center. After an incredible performance last night along with Brandi Carlile, tonight they do it again but with Head and the Heart opening.

Another show we have been excited about for weeks is Fiona Apple at the Tower Theater. Apple recently released her new album The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do. She plays tonight at 8 PM, you can get tickets here.

The alternative rock group, Motion City Soundtrack who just released their fifth studio album, Go, play tonight at Union Transfer along with The Henry Clay People and the Front Bottoms. Tickets the 7:30 PM show are $18-20.

Finally, WXPN Welcomes Hezekiah Jones to the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s 64th Annual Pastorius Park Free Summer Concert Series. The all ages show is free and begins at 7:30 PM.


Watch Fiona Apple and The Roots perform a new song and a cover Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It.”

Fiona Apple releases her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do today. She plays the Tower Theatre on Wednesday, June 27th. Last night she was on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, played “Anything We Want” from hew new album and also covered Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” in honor of McCartney’s 70th birthday. Watch them below.


Listen to Fiona Apple’s new album on NPR Music, playing Tower Theatre on June 27

Photo by Dan Monick

Fiona Apple releases her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do on June 19th. It’s been seven years since her last full-length, Extraordinary Machine. Via NPR Music, stream Apple’s new album it in its entirety here. She plays at the Tower Theatre on Wednesday, June 27th. Go here for tickets.

Also, check out her brand new video for “Every Single Night” below:


Listen to a new song from Fiona Apple, “Anything We Want” (playing Tower Theatre on June 27th)

Fiona Apple releases her new album, on June 19th called The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. She plays the Tower Theatre on Wednesday, June 27th. Go here for tickets to the show. Below, listen to another new song from Apple’s forthcoming album.


SXSW Dispatch: Fiona Apple versus cameraphones

“Oh my God, did somebody get a picture of that?” the guy next to me hollers. “Preferably on your iPhone?!” Fiona Apple was pacing the stage to enthusiastic applause after wrapping up a smoking performance of “Fast As You Can” and, snark aside, the dude had a point. It was Thursday evening at famed Austin BBQ club Stubbs, NPR’s SXSW showcase, Apple’s big return as a performer, and everybody wanted to capture it for posterity—to the point where the outstretched arms with cameraphone screens obstructed the performer if you were standing in the wrong spot. Certainly this is part of the concertgoing experience in the mobile social media age, but wow. As if Apple wasn’t unnerved enough up there. First show in six years in front of a bunch of music industry bigwigs, no pressure, right?

The good news (for Apple) is she sounded good. Not great; she certainly lapsed into moments, particularly while revisiting songs from her 1996 debut Tidal, where her voice was strained and sloppy, and not in a cool stylized way. Her set closed with a weak rendition of her MTV hit “Criminal,” and by the end, even she seemed over it — pulling out her in-ear monitor and wrapping it up atop her piano while her band vamped out the coda. But when Apple was on, she was on. One of the best moments came from 1999′s When The Pawn—the intense, harrowing “A Mistake”—and the three new numbers she debuted all sound fantastic. Her fourth album is expected…sometime. For now, HuffPo grabed a nice vid of “A Mistake” which you can watch below.