Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tori Amos in Boston

So, after Kiri's beautifully sung and extraordinarily satisfying recital on Sunday, I thought I'd be pretty bored at Tori Amos's concert - especially since I found her Paris stop on this tour to be a snooze (she was extremely subdued that night), ditto recent TV appearances (Leno a couple weeks ago). The new album has a silly concept (four characters that are not Tori, and their names come from Greek goddesses and it's all very kitschy).

On this tour, Tori starts "Act I" as one of the four characters that are not Tori, and changes into her Tori costume for the rest of the show. It's sorta interesting in a performative sense (think Judith Butler), but, eh. I went to the fourth show on the tour, in Paris, and there Tori debuted Clyde, the fourth character she presented. Tonight in Boston, it was Clyde again.

I wasn't disappointed to see the same character, for two reasons. One, Clyde's makeup and wig suit Tori extremely well - she looked lovely. Two, Clyde has some nice songs, and "Bouncing Off of Clouds" is a killer opening number.

The voice was a bit weak in this song, her current single, but it was out in full force for the rest of the show, starting with "Little Earthquakes." Tori uses both chest and head extensively - she spends much time in her gravel-toned lower register, and for special moments she soars into a shimmering soprano realm, often above the staff. In "Little Earthquakes," she dazzled with her coloratura runs near the end. "Sugar" (!), "Northern Lad", and the closing number, "Hey Jupiter" (Dakota version), all featured extended passages that allowed her to shine vocally. It's a classical sound, very unusual in rock/alternative music, and Tori exploits it extremely well.

Her phrasing is never careless. She means the text. The gorgeous lyrical interlude of "Space Dog" tugged at the heart strings, and "Merman" made me cry. There was another song I did not recognize - perhaps an improv (she does an improv at each of the shows on this tour, and she did one tonight on border-crossing, but this isn't the song I'm referring to) - that was the most moving thing I had ever heard her song. Something about a well and having an ocean to swim in. I thought it might be dedicated to her niece, who was in the audience. She said her niece called her a "MILF" and keeps her "fucking hot" (Tori touched her ass and made a sizzling noise).

I haven't even mentioned her keyboard-playing. She had a Boesendorfer grand piano (as always) as well as an organ and a keyboard. Many times she straddled her piano bench, her left hand working the piano, her right hand on the organ or keyboard. At the opening of "Bells for Her," her mic had come undone at the back, and she kept playing like this, at times trying to fix it with one hand, until she gave a cut throat signal to a stage hand who came to fix her mic pack as she continued playing. Once her mic has been fixed, she began singing as if nothing had happened. Can we say ambidextrous?

There was much impressive playing, but "Cornflake Girl" contains some of the most awe-inspiring and virtuosic passagework you'll ever see at a rock concert.

Tonight was special. It was good to see Tori perform another great show - the Paris show this year was the only disappointing one I have seen, and that may be because just two years earlier I'd heard her solo (where she's best - the current tour is with her band) at four amazingly moving concerts.

1 comment:

SarahB said...

I'm not sure what to think of Clyde or these other characters, but when I saw Tori in San Antonio about eight years ago, it was the most erotic stage performances I had ever seen. I don't even think Tori was present - her body was there but she was completely transported to some other musical galaxy far, far away.