A review of Tori's March 4, 2003 concert in Durham, NH appears in the March 7, 2003 edition of The New Hampshire, the student newspaper of the University of New Hampshire. Many thanks to Gary for bring this to my attention. You can read the review online at www.tnh.unh.edu or below.
'Scarlet Walk Tour' worth the trip to the Whitt?
By Michele Filgate, Staff Writer
Behind the red gauze curtain, a voice of eerily beautiful substance echoed out over the crowded arena of the Whittemore Center. "Greed is the/gift for the/sons of the/sons/Hear this prayer/of the/Wampum." As the words of the very short "Wampum Prayer" lingered in eager fans' ears, the curtain was ripped away, and in a dazzle of pulsating blue lights, singer/songwriter Tori Amos emerged onto the stage like a mystical mink to the wild roar of the audience. Sashaying her way across the stage, her angel sleeved sheer black shirt floated around her cut-off jeans and knee-high boots, and the light gave a royal purple sheen to the hemp wrap in her auburn hair.
You may be wondering why I'm describing a concert more stylistically like creative writing than a normal reviewer would. The answer is that Tori personifies poetry in her movement, facial expression, and voice. To write a dry take of the set list would do no justice to the treat Durham concert-goers received on Tuesday night.
Now on her second leg of her Scarlet's Walk tour, Tori is promoting her album of the same name that was released Oct. 29 of last year. The music is inspired by Tori's feelings after Sept. 11, and covers a fictional character named Scarlet on her travels across America.
On Tuesday night, Tori's rendition of the well-known single off of Scarlet's Walk, "A Sorta Fairytale," had an added emotional impact performed live. The lyrics drew me into her mindset of insight and creation, and as she sang "Like a good book/I can't put this day back/a sorta fairytale with you," I felt the atmosphere of the song's content around me. Sitting in the front row, center seats, I could see Tori's eyes sparkle and the reflection of her face in the gleaming surface of the piano as she sang. Unlike many of today's studio generated pop stars, Tori's talent is evident not by the amazing sounds coming from a recording studio, but instead from her own fluctuating voice and alteration between the piano and keyboard. Often times she would play the keyboard and piano at the same time while singing, staring out at the audience with a genuine grin that showed how much of a natural talent she is. And also how much fun she was having.
In the beginning of the show, Tori commented on how she loved a decoration in the Whit and that her daughter wanted it, so she gave the heads up that she was taking it and could be billed for it. I am not sure what decoration she was talking about, though she did mention it had cute crabs and lobsters. She also blew a kiss into the microphone when an enthusiastic audience member screamed out "We love you Tori!" Other than an aside comment on some conversation she'd had with Dave Matthews over bathrooms, Tori wasn't very talkative with the audience. Her eye contact and shaking hands of a few fans made up for it.
I must admit that the sound quality was a bit over the top with Jon Evans on the bass and Matt Chamberlain on the drums; there were a few times during the show that I found it hard to understand what Tori was singing over the loud accompanying musicians. During "Roadside Cafe," where it was just Tori on stage playing the piano and singing, it was much more enjoyable to listen to. Her lyrical "Baker Baker" off of the album "Under the Pink" sounded amazing live. As if that wasn't enough, she followed with a spirited version of "Crazy" off of "Scarlet's Walk."
The visual effects of the lighting behind her for "I Can't See New York" were perfect, with what looked like warped clouds on a dark backdrop enshrouding her on the piano. I was moved the most during this song because Tori really seemed to be lost in the melancholic lyrics that are said to be influenced by the devastating effects of the terrorist attacks. "I can't see New York/as I'm circling down/through white cloud/ falling out/and I know your lips/are warm/but I can't seem/to find my way/my way out/of your hunting ground."
Other songs she sang included "Carnival" off of the "Mission: Impossible II" soundtrack, "Iiieee" off of "From the Choirgirl Hotel," and a version of "Crucify" off of "Little Earthquakes" that had a much different sound than the album version, with more of a drawn out instrumental introduction.
The special treat were both of the encores. I was pressed against the stage by the sea of people behind me, and stood right below Tori as she walked off stage the first time. People thudded on the stage with their hands chanting "Tori" until she came back out and sang "Caught a Lite Sneeze" and an excellent version of "Liquid Diamonds." When she left again, the audience chanted louder. For her last two songs, she performed "Juarez" and ended with the haunting "Horses" off of "Boys For Pele." The lyrics from "Cornflake Girl," which she also sang, describe the experience of the concert for me: "This is not really happening/You bet your life it is." And indeed it did, I have the ticket stub to prove it.