Thursday, August 12, 2010

Elvis Costello with Fiona Apple: I Want You

This performance represents, I suspect, one of those rare magical and wholly unrepeatable musical moments. If you've heard Fiona Apple before I guarantee you it was nothing like this. (If you've heard the Costello I Want You original, this one is better by miles.) Apple loads her napalm-on-dry-ice stare with all the appropriate subtext of the insufficiently medicated. (Warning: May cause sphincter-flexing flashbacks for survivors of psycho-relationships.) For much of the song's seven minutes Apple sounds as if the restraint holding her voice can't possibly last. There's a bit of rage loosed here and there, teeth are bared and arms swing almost autistically for a moment, but the fragile composure returns. It's a brilliantly measured performance.

The song also offers further proof of just how good Costello's band is.
(What better way to convey fidgety insecurity than vintage sci-fi electric organ and whammy-barred guitar?) Probably one of the greatest backing bands that ever was.
I wish I'd been there.

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