A review of Tori's April 15, 2005 concert in Chicago, IL appeared in the April 18, 2005 edition of The Chicago Tribune newspaper.
Thanks to Charlie Poole and Rick Bristol for telling me about this review, which you can read online at chicagotribune.com or below. You can read all the Chicago concert reviews here.
In all her Tori
Cult singer Amos rewards crowd with the songs they long to hear
By Joshua Klein
Special to the Tribune
Tori Amos hasn't had a lot of hits, at least on the radio. But the iconoclastic singer-songwriter has written her share of catchy material, such as "Silent All These Years," "Cornflake Girl" or even the more recent "A Sorta Fairytale."
While hardly ubiquitous, these would strike the average pop music listener as somewhat familiar -- and Amos didn't play any of them Friday night to her rapturous fans at a sold-out Auditorium Theatre performance.
It took guts for Amos to ignore her most accessible material, playing a two-hour, sharply executed set aimed squarely at the cult faithful with hardly any effort to bring casual followers into the fold.
Given Amos' idiosyncratic career and her unwillingness to compromise one iota for commercial gain, her concert wasn't surprising. Playing solo on a grand piano, a pair of organs, an electric piano and often combinations of two of them, Amos demonstrated the consistent depth of weirdness and complexity in her songs, often self-consciously strange and florid where a straight-forward melody would probably have sufficed. But Amos rarely plays things that easy.
Most solo performances are marked by a certain simplicity. Amos, on the other hand, by tackling the tricky art-rock arrangements of songs such as "Barons of Suburbia" (from her latest album, "The Beekeeper") or "Space Dog" single-handedly, made them even stranger, and she didn't shy away from epic compositions such as "Yes, Anastasia," either.
Amos still straddles her bench suggestively as a display of primal erotic empowerment, but there's a lot of thought in the image she projects. Consider, for example, the enthusiastically received choice to offer "Apollo's Frock," from an obscure EP, or "Cool On Your Island," a seldom-played track from her disowned 1988 debut "Y Kant Tori Read," a strategic sop for the real fanatics, a number of whom seemed to be in attendance.
Despite her predilection for offbeat imagery and unconventional arrangements, a pair of telling covers -- Jim Croce's "Operator (That's Not the Way it Feels)" and Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" (which made Amos mist up) -- underlined that Amos' unconventional sound still is rooted in conventional songwriting, just gussied up with a virtuoso vigor and a mischievous instinct to mix things up.