Fiona Apple

The single highlight of Monday night’s (July 16, 2012) Fiona Apple concert at the Orpheum came in the opening act, when Fiona’s lead guitarist, Blake Mills, performed ‘Sleepwalk,’ one of the great instrumentals in rock history. He gussied it up some with his wonderfully expressive guitar, but the song’s essence remained the same. The memories of slow-dancing in a basement rec room in 7th grade were only a part – well, maybe a big part – of the pleasure this performance gave me. Just as thrilling was the recognition that ’50s music sounds just as good 50 years later, and that a guitarist for one of the most challenging and lauded artists of 2012 can make it his own today. There was, however, one little time bump: rather than acknowledge 1959 as the original date for the Santo & Johnny hit, Blake recalled the song from the 1987 movie La Bamba.
As for Fiona Apple’s performance, she was a dynamo. I only knew one of her songs, “Criminal,” and it’s not a favorite, but you had to admire the ferocity with which she projected her music and, with her sprite-like body, controlled the stage. The musical highlight, coincidentally, was another oldie: she sang Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” for her encore, showing off every bit of her vocal range and power.