Thanks to Woj for teling me about this. You can read this press review online at sacbee.com or below if the link has expired:
Tori Amos rocks in solo -- or trio -- performance
By Chris Macias -- Bee Pop Music Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Tuesday, April 15, 2003
With her fluttery voice, otherworldly lyrics and flowing dress, Tori Amos was pop music's answer to Glinda the Good Witch of the North on Sunday night at the Memorial Auditorium. And when the acoustics were just right and Amos' voice and piano rang through, she certainly conjured musical magic during her two-hour set.
Since arriving on the music scene in the early 1990s, Amos has cast a mighty spell and inspired a formidable cult following (aka "Toriphiles"). Her song themes run the gamut among God, sex and cornflakes, yet there's often a soothing, soul-cleansing aspect to Amos' music that makes her really deep thoughts go down easy.
In terms of instrumentation, Amos' current show is halfway between a solo outing and a full-band lineup. It's a three-piece outfit (the Tori Amos Trio?) that features Amos complemented by bass (Jon Evans) and drums (Matt Chamberlain). Ideally, the setup allows Amos' intimacy to shine, but still enables her to tackle some of the thicker sonics found in her recent work.
"Precious Things" was given a rock-hard reading by Amos' power trio, while "A Sorta Fairytale" maintained a full, breezy vibe despite its stripped arrangement.
As a whole, electric guitar and other instruments weren't really missed and might have bogged down Amos' heavier songs (such as "Sugar" and "Tombigbee").
After all, Amos' piano covered plenty of ground. There was much focus on the keyboard's lower register, and coupled with zesty rhythmic punctuations, Amos' piano playing swirled in dramatic tones. Along with bass guitar as an undertow, her music frequently rocked and rumbled.
Yet this emphasis on the low end wasn't a good fit for the Memorial Auditorium's murky acoustics. Evans' bass often was rendered muddy, and the clarity of Amos' vocals and piano was mostly sullied when the band played at top volume.
Still, Amos' singing was full of presence, especially in a solo reading of "Black Swan" and the all-out chorus of "Taxi Ride." True, there were traces of road-weary grit in Amos' speaking voice and during a couple of songs, including "Virginia." Also, non-Toriphiles may find Amos' upper-register vocals a bit grating and too Kate Bush-ish with her fondness for "heeeeeere" and "yee-heeee" cries. But all said, Amos' singing teemed with range and dynamics.
Amos' mission, it seemed, was to totally captivate the crowd of 2,800, especially during a three-song solo set ("Black Swan," "Yes, Anastasia," "Etienne"). Sans band, her piano and vocals had plenty of breathing room to achieve her renowned emotional starkness and intimacy.
On the solo end, Amos also performed Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" during the concert's encore. Her version was fairly straightforward, especially since she's known for radical interpretations of Slayer and Nirvana songs, but her homage to Fleetwood Mac still hit in the right places.
The thought of an entire solo set with Amos is intriguing, and she has done this on occasion. However, there may be too much sameness in the tone of her solo showcases to fully pull this off.
Still, Amos' show was a well-rounded trip through her back catalog and most-recent album, "Scarlet's Walk." In the end, the Tori Amos experience is a bit weird, a little wild -- and, in many instances, quite wonderful.
About the Writer
The Bee's Chris Macias can be reached at (916) 321-1253 or firstname.lastname@example.org