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Apple on point in rocking show at Stage AE

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By William Loeffler
Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, 1:33 a.m.

The world be would be less interesting without Fiona Apple.

Fiona, the rocker, showed up Sunday at Stage AE on the North Shore. Dressed in jeans and a black camisole, her hair pulled back in a pony tail, she sounded hoarse but passionate, as she and her four-piece band barnstormed through punchy versions of "On the Bound," "Fast As You Can" and a half dozen numbers from her new release, "The Idler Wheel." Songs like "Werewolf" and "Left Alone" really came off, although her new batch of songs sometimes evoke admiration rather than enjoyment.

"Paper Bag," from her second album in 1999, served as a reminder how good a tunesmith Apple is. Don't go Radiohead on us, Fiona.

Her band swung as ably as it rocked. "Extraordinary Machine" sounded like it could have been on the soundtrack to a classic Disney movie. That's a compliment, by the way. Apple did little steps and half turns as she sang, for all the world like Cinderella fantasizing in front of the mirror. The muddy sound was a distraction, and Apple and her band sometimes overplayed the songs. Surprisingly, she spent most of her time in front of the mike, handing off the bulk of the piano chores to a sideman. But when she sat down at her keyboard to sing the caustic kiss off "Get Gone" and the torchy "I Know," it was apparent that that she's still one bad Apple.

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