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.