A rather negative press review of Tori's September 9, 2005 concert in Ridgefield, WA appears in the September 12, 2005 edition of The Columbian newspaper.
Thanks to Lisa for telling me about this press review, which you can read at columbian.com or below:
Amos played, but few came to hear
By BRETT OPPEGAARD, Columbian staff writer
Maybe it was because the crowd was so stunningly small. But Tori Amos performed Friday night at the Amphitheater at Clark County like she was the only one in the building that mattered.
Amos, who gained popularity in the early to mid-1990s with albums such as "Little Earthquakes," "Under the Pink" and "Boys for Pele," played just a couple of her hits from that era, instead focusing on new or obscure material.
With a backdrop of a cartoonish snake coiling around a tree and holding a once-bitten apple, Amos pranced onto the stage just after 9 p.m. Barely acknowledging the audience, she sat down at her Bosendorfer grand piano, whipped her long reddish hair back and started pounding on the keys and singing.
Even for the 3-year-old amphitheater, which is struggling mightily with attendance, the turnout was embarrassingly thin. The lawn seating area was closed. There were just a few people in the back section of reserved seats and many empty seats in the front section, too. Those who came paid $36 to $50 per person.
Almost everyone sat throughout the performance, making for a dull atmosphere Amos did nothing to stimulate.
With the grand piano and five smaller keyboards all arranged in a row, Amos primarily presented the crowd with her profile, occasionally whipping her head around to glimpse the fans during a split-second pause in a tune. In essence, then, she performed this solo act more for the spotlight coming from the side of the stage than the audience.
The tempo of the material was slow and jagged. Even when she did perform one of her well-known singles, such as "Silent All These Years," Amos adjusted the pacing in a way that made the music almost indecipherable.
With no backing band, alone on stage with her keyboard, Amos was in complete control, and she made sure to express that. Any potential sing-along moments for fans (or any chance for them to just get excited), therefore, were disrupted by intentional spurts and stutters in the music.
Amos is a talented pianist and songwriter as well as a decent singer, but in this, umm, hyper-reflective mode, she flattens her melodies to near monotonality. In some ways, her approach creates great beauty in the subtleties of the interpretations. Such focus and overall sparsity makes even her breath sound like an important utterance. She clearly thinks of her work as transcending pop music into the realm of high art.
Yet considering all of this is taking place in a nearly empty 18,000-seat amphitheater, it makes the tedious show instead seem pathetically self indulgent. She would have been much better off playing her usual venue in the area, the 2,800-seat Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, or even the 5,000-seat University of Portland Chiles Center, where she stopped in 2002. Or loosening up and letting her fans have some fun.
Most of her comments were quips, until she made the transition into the "Tori's Piano Bar" portion of the performance. That was the point where she was supposed to play songs suggested by the audience beforehand via the Internet. Instead, she discounted all of the entries as "crap," choosing to play her own picks: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from the "Wizard of Oz" and Joni Mitchell's "River."
She also put together a little ditty that she thought would go over well, inspired, she said, by one of the e-mail submissions. The tune spoke about someone asking her, "Why Aren't You Coming to Oregon?" Only problem, she didn't grasp the irony in the fact that she wasn't in Oregon.
She also lost concentration a couple of times during the various "encores," stopping songs when lyrics were dropped. One time, she even forgot a line, tried to get through the song twice, then ended up asking the crowd for help in remembering what she was supposed to sing.
The generally spotty two-hour effort by Amos meant one of the opening acts, The Ditty Bops, provided the biggest highlight of the evening. This quirky quartet, dressed all in black and white, used red balloons (and a variety of other props) to illustrate its new tune "Your Head's Too Big."
Mandolin player Amanda Barrett and guitarist Abby DeWald cleverly sang about the people of this world who are more than a bit too self-absorbed, punctuating that warning by popping a balloon that symbolically represents over-inflation of ego.
In hindsight, the song might just foreshadow the potential fate of someone we know who certainly deserves it.