Fiona Apple sheds baggage at Orpheum
It's hard to say who was more nervous at the Orpheum Theatre on Monday night: reclusive songwriting heroine Fiona Apple, who has a famously tempestuous, teetering relationship with the stage and is fresh off a six-year hiatus from performing; or her fans, who didn't want to make any sudden moves or shout the wrong kind of "I love you" and throw the singer off her game.
That tenuous, uncomfortable vibe lingered through "Fast as You Can" and "On the Bound," the first two songs of the nearly sold-out, 90-minute performance. But then it was Apple herself who uncharacteristically broke the ice. Talking before the third song, the 34-year-old howler made light of her new look and the way she held her head while seated at the piano.
"I tied my glasses to my face so the sweat didn't make them fall off like last time," she said in a rapid, breathless tone that sounded spastic in a nerdy way. "I'm not trying to look cool," she added, quite unnecessarily.
Things were completely cool after that. Apple slid into a gracefully manic version of her 1996 MTV hit "Shadowboxer," during which her voice rose from low-purring cat to a bellowing grizzly bear. From there, the show itself never slipped and was often a real stunner.
Apple was very much a burning ball of nerves, but she rolled along perfectly with her songs' bumpy, victim-vs.-victor themes. The way she kicked the stage during "Extraordinary Machine" reflected the torturous lyrics (i.e., "I'm good at being uncomfortable"). In "Get Gone," another highlight, she sat at the edge of her stool in pounce position looking ready to flip over her baby grand at any moment.
Surprisingly, she only played four songs off her fascinating albeit challenging new album, titled "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do." She worked wonders with those four, though, especially the more simplistic but powerful piano ballad "Werewolf."
Before the moody new single "Every Single Night," she threw off her glasses, and looked straight out into the crowd as she sputtered, "Look at, look at, look at, look at me!" Somewhere during the concert, Apple also seemed to shed a lot of baggage. As only many of the best songwriters can do. - CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER
Masu to open 'Mallsu'
While a lot of bar/restaurants like to highlight all the new bells and whistles when opening a second location, the brass at Masu say its Mall of America sequel is virtually identical to the original. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The MOA location will open Sunday on the third floor next to Tony Roma's. The menu is the same, save for a few additions such as Takubetsu na men (a noodle bowl special that will change daily). The bar, which won't be tucked into the corner like it is in Northeast, will serve 24 sakes, six craft drafts and the same great gummi cocktails. (Opens 11 a.m. Sunday. Mall of America, third floor. www.masusushiandrobata.com.) - TOM HORGEN
XYandZ Gallery closes, bigger plans ahead
After Saturday's closing party at the XYandZ Gallery (noon-8 p.m. Sat., 3258 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls.), Minneapolis will be without one of its best and most daring tastemakers in our young contemporary art scene. But not for long. Bigger plans are in the works.
The small but ambitious art space in Longfellow is closing after three years, but not without a worthy finale. Over the past month, fans have been treated to Broken Crow's exhibit, titled "We Did What We Could." The large-scale stencil muralists behind Broken Crow (John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons) shrunk their bold visuals down to smaller, gallery-sized canvases for this show, but the duo's love for all things beastly -- lions, wolves, penguins and a crazy monkey -- were as dramatic as ever. Saturday's closing party will include drinks by the North Star Bartenders Guild, music and art projects for kids.