Thanks to Lucy for sending this to The Dent. You can read it online at indystar.com or below.
Solos provide finest moments
By David Lindquist
March 19, 2003
In a stirring episode of social commentary -- for either side of the war debate -- Tori Amos sang John Lennon's "Imagine" to a packed house Tuesday at the Murat Theatre.
She sang in hopes of "a brotherhood of man" accompanied only by piano, her signature sound during the 1990s. It was a special performance of undeniable purity.
But, as Amos has explored new directions as an artist, solo tunes now make up just a fraction of her concerts.
Ani DiFranco, a peer of Amos' in the realm of singer-songwriter cult heroes, has expanded her solo folkie format with horns and keyboards. All things considered, DiFranco's new textures work.
In the case of Amos, extra players supply a layer of clutter for a listener to navigate. In concert, over-amplified bassist Jon Evans and plodding drummer Matt Chamberlain drained any compelling traits from Amos' newest songs.
Tuesday's show began with "A Sorta Fairytale" -- a touch-and-go love story found on current album "Scarlet's Walk." The three musicians, however, mustered more of a dirge than the whimsy conveyed in the song's memorable "arm and a leg" video.
Amos fails to help the cause with enunciation-free vocals that flirt with self-parody.
"Wednesday," a meandering menu of conspiracy theories set to a hoe-down beat, proved to be one "Scarlet" highlight.
And treasured oldie "Cornflake Girl" exploded in three dimensions, thanks to its melody, thoughtful arrangement and a chance for the star to vamp at her piano.
The message seems simple enough: While Amos excels at heavy topics, the songs still need hooks.
Opening act Rhett Miller (***) has turned into a romantic optimist during a solo hiatus from his top-flight Americana band, the Old 97s.
He sang about love, devotion and trust within a batch of clever, plain-spoken yarns worthy of fellow Texan Buddy Holly.