Lucy sent me the following review of Tori's November 20, 2002 concert in Montreal, Quebec from the November 21, 2002 edition of the Montreal Gazette.
Tori Amos's piano solo clinches red-hot experience: Concert starts with standing ovation. Alone on-stage, singer brings songs to life despite sound problems at beginning
You either like her or you don't. And the 5,000 fans at the Bell Centre Theatre for Tori Amos last night - yeah, they liked her.
The first standing ovation came as the lights went down. The curtain was still up. Amos's voice came, singing, over the P.A. The curtain dropped. Her bassist and guitarist continued to play. She made her entrance. Of course she did. Amos is an entrance-making kinda gal. She walked out elegantly, her pink, sheer dress flowing around her, her trademark red locks the same as ever. She sat at the piano and joined in.
A Sorta Fairytale was the song. It's the second track off Amos's new album, Scarlet's Walk - a stream-of-consciousness survey of America's post-millennial, post-9/11 psyche.
Everything is stream-of-consciousness for Amos, or at least, she likes to come off that way. Abstract poetics, meandering piano lines and straight-from-the-heart themes are what she is made of.
It took a while to gel. First problem: sound. Not a major problem, but when you're dealing with a near-acoustic music like hers, subtlety counts in large amounts. The bass was overpowering. And while that's good at a funk jam, it's not so good when the woman at the piano is waxing emotive nuance.
One song later, Amos turned to play the organ behind her, only to find it lost in the mix. Things weren't looking (never mind sounding) good. Amos's recent material is already on the open-ended side of things. Lose the detailing and you lose the point.
Enter Cornflake Girl, off Amos's breakthrough 1994 sophomore album Under the Pink. Immediate cheers.
The song's groove took hold. Amos's voice fluttered about. She was having fun, and so was her audience. She let out an a capella purr on the offbeat, and drew more cheers. Her musicians were with her; there was chemistry; we were getting somewhere.
Later on, she presented the mandatory, and night-clinching, solo set. Alone at the piano, she brought her songs to life without unnecessary embellishments. She got down to business.
It has been 11 years since Amos released her debut, Little Earthquakes. In that time, she has gone from fresh-faced button-pusher to known entity. And there haven't been many shockers in the interim.
She had her accessible period, distanced herself from it, came back a bit. Last night, Amos got toy with it all. She got to indulge in the sensory experience of the new album, and cajole her audience with old favourites.
She got to be Tori Amos. Either you like her or you don't. After more than two hours of music, they still liked her.
Opener Howie Day was worthy of mention. The Boston-based singer-songwriter played unaccompanied on guitar, but it didn't sound like it. Using various sampling and looping effects, he constructed basslines, drums and multi-part harmonies - all of which blended together for some memorable, planing pop songs.