Live Music Review: Tori Amos


Tori AmosI imagine living with Tori Amos would be an exhausting experience; she comes across as 100% intense, involved, creative—almost not of this earth. I just can’t see her sitting in front of the TV eating takeway in track pants. Which is a shame, as a little more of a human connection would have been just the thing on Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House, where I saw her perform. The concert was intense, but emotional in a detached, ethereal, slightly scary kind of way. And that kind of experience ratcheted up to the top level of intensity for almost two hours can be exhausting, even draining.

As my girlfriend, who is not really a fan, pointed out, one of the best parts of the concert was ‘Tori’s Piano Bar’, where she played a couple of requests previously sent in by fans—in this case Suzanne by Leonard Cohen and Don McLean’s Vincent (Starry Starry Night). Unlike Tori’s songs, these two had room to breathe, and she played them beautifully, her strong voice filling the concert hall and complemented by a restrained but lovely light show.

Her own songs sometimes didn’t fare quite so well, and I missed the grounding prescence that a band usually gives to her sometimes self-indulgent pauses and phrasings. An example was Tear in Your Hand, from her first album Little Earthquakes, which was too drawn out and lost the strength of the original. The new songs from her most recent album The Beekeeper were more effective, perhaps because I have yet to hear the album versions. The eponymous song, in particular, had a wonderful repetitive organ line, which she played in a spotlight like a supplicant at an altar (an impression reinforced by the long flowing white dress and red hair).

There was not an empty seat in the house, and the audience were obviously ecstatic fans—mostly groups of women in their early twenties, I noticed. In fact we must have been one of the rare incidents of a male fan accompanied by a female non-fan. Oh well, I’m a Kate Bush fan too.

Tori’s voice was powerful to the last, hanging in the air at the end of each song; and her playing was amazingly assured and strong. But there was an imaginary wall hanging in the air between performer and audience. That word ‘intense’ keeps coming back to mind. Intensity is a wonderful thing when tempered by contrast, but alone as here, it can drown out the possibility of a real emotional connection.

Four earth mothers out of five (PS Thanks for the tickets babe!).

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anaglyph
    May 16, 2005 @ 18:11:42

    Wow, an audience full of women. How the hell did I miss that opportunity? But you did say 20-somethings. Probably best I stayed at home and watched Angel…

  2. Annie
    Jun 04, 2005 @ 12:12:39

    (sigh) I wish someone would get me tickets to something cool.
    Hell, I’d even go to Tori Amos