I hadn’t even stepped out of the taxibefore scalpers asked if I had a ticket. The line stretched outside New YorkCity’s Roseland Ballroom as hundreds of people of all ages awaited Fiona Apple’ssold-out performance. Celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow and MandyMoore were among the masses.
When I entered the dark, smoky ballroom itwas packed. People pushed to the stage, not caring who got crushed as long asthey were as close to Fiona as possible.
I was surprised that rap groupJurassic 5 opened, but then again, I would have sat through MC Hammer to see herperform. Some people got into it but most were restless. After Jurassic’sperformance everyone was full of anticipation for what we thought would be agreat show of raw angst and pure talent.
As we awaited Fiona’s entrancethere was a surprise guest. Jimmy Falon of “Saturday Night Live” came outwith a hot-pink troll and sang eight short, funny versions of songs about thetroll. The audience loved it.
Then the lights dimmed. As Fiona ranon-stage, she began “On the Bound,” the first song off her second album,”When the Pawn …” She angrily pounded the piano keys wearing a long blackskirt and a red tank top with her trademark long, straight hair flying everywherewith each note.
Things were going fine, but then suddenly the showchanged. We watched as Fiona became angry and screamed, “I can’t hearmyself,” and began to cry. As she danced she jerked her body around as ifinvisible forces were guiding her. It was clear she was becoming very angry, andreminded me of a line from “On the Bound” that proclaims, “Hell don’tknow my fury.”
Technical problems were keeping Fiona from hearingherself. It became harder and harder for her to stay composed and soon she wassobbing through songs, barely able to keep up. The audience yelled encouragment -“You’re beautiful,” “We love you,” “You’re doing great” – but thewords fell on deaf ears.
Fiona yelled at concert reviewers to put awaytheir notebooks, bashed Roseland’s sound system and apologized to the crowd forher performance. She yelled lyrics of songs and had to stop and restart”Carrion” before she finally gave up. The crowd felt for her as shetearfully apologized again and again. The sad part is, she really sounded good,despite the technical problems. She just didn’t know.
At one point shetold the crowd she was going off-stage for five minutes while they tried to fixthe monitors, but she never returned. We were told Fiona could not continue, butto keep our ticket stubs for a free concert to make up for this one. The crowdwas upset, but slowly filed out. Many expressed sympathy for her, some wereannoyed. However you look at it, I am glad I was there. I knew it would be noordinary show, and I was right.