A review of Tori's August 22, 2003 concert in Holmdel, NJ appears at DiscoveringArtists.com.
Thanks to Lindsay W. for telling me about this. You can read the review online at DiscoveringArtists.com or below. DiscoveringArtists.com has also posted photos of both Tori and Ben Folds from the Holdel show that you can see here.
Ben Folds and Tori Amos
The PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ - August 22, 2003
Although I ventured to this show eager to hear Ben perform, I was shocked because Tori really stole the show.
I've always been a fan of both, and I'm familiar with all of their work. I've seen Ben perform three times, but never have I seen Tori. So maybe that's why I was utterly blown away.
Ben started the show with "Best Imitation of Myself", which set the tone for the evening as he energetically followed it up with "Zak and Sara". As delightfully as usual, it was going to be packed with musical exertion on Ben's part. As he rocked over the keyboard, mostly standing, and swirled up and down the keys playing octaves I didn't know existed. It was then that I realized Ben is an artist I can see a million times and never get sick of.
After "Give Judy my Notice" form his newest release Speed Graphic , Ben revealed "Moment of Truth," a brand new song off his second upcoming EP, Sunny 16 . The song is one of unconditional support, and one of the best lines was "Freak out if you want to, and I'll still be here." Ben repeated that "You should learn to live as you are," because there's "Never gonna be a moment of truth." All in all, I think the song will make a great addition to the second EP, which also features another song he played for us, called "They Don't Give a Fuck." That song is an honest look at Americans today. Although it doesn't make a political statement, it sheds light on America's "bigger and better" syndrome. In it, Ben speaks of buying in bulk at Walmart and driving huge SUVs. I definitely like songs where Ben shares his opinions, and I am eager to hear the studio version when the next EP comes out.
One thing that is bound to happen to anyone in the audience at a Ben show is watching him mess up. It adds a comical side to the performance, and pizzazz for all the people who tape shows.
During the night, Ben also played older songs like "Brick" "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces" "Philosophy" and "Rockin' the Suburbs."
Whether it was sweat pouring down his face and listening to him cuss about the burn in his eye during, or the microphone falling from its stand as he tapped it during "Army", I was amused and entertained watching Ben laugh at himself, look at the audience for their take on the mishap, and continue playing.
"Army" also included some audience involvement as Ben "conducted" the audience to back him up on saxophones and trumpets. This got big after he did it on his "Ben Live" release, and most of the shows promoting the album. I've done it before, but it's still fun to watch Ben motivate a crowd.
Motivated, indeed we were as he continued on with "Kate" and "Eddie Walker." A popular request was adhered to when Ben tried to play an old song of his, "Kalamazoo." He couldn't remember much, but the small group that requested it was more than pleased. He closed the show with "Not the Same."
After a short intermission where I spent $6.50 on a glass of white zinfandel (Note to self: drink booze in the parking lot before the show next time), it was time for Tori to go on.
Tori took the stage by storm as she sang "Wampum Prayer" as a prelude to "A Sorta Fairytale" before making her grand entrance. Grand it was. The mid-life beauty wore a flowing red and white polka dot top over cuffed jeans with strappy sandals. Her mystical look combined with the romantic ballad lured me in. From there on, I was hooked as she continued with an empowering version of "Sugar". Two songs into the show and I realized the value in seeing Tori live - it is the only way to go. All of the CDs I've collected over the years do not give her justice. But once I heard the rasp of her voice, the vibration of the bass and the thunder of the drums, her music came alive to me.
I was pleased to see Tori play an elite collection of songs from all of her albums, which included "God", "In The Springtime Of His Voodoo", "Take To The Sky", and "I Can't See New York." The crowd resuscitated with energy when she belted out "Cornflake Girl" The band left the stage and she performed "Baker Baker", "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963", and a moving rendition of "Jackie's Strength", a song off her From the Choirgirl Hotel album. "Professional Widow" was a hit to hear live with thumping drums that drew me in to the emotion of the song. Her performances were radiant, and it was obvious that she adores her fans.
I'd never heard "Take to the Sky" live with the "I Feel the Earth Move" addition. The moment she started singing it, the people in the front rows started dancing. It was a fun song, and enjoyable to watch her "get down" so intently with her fans.
Another highlight of the show was seeing Matt Chamberlain, Tori's drummer, play. The man has worked with all the greats, such as Jeffrey Gaines, Elton John, Chantal Kreviazuk, Pearl Jam, Andy Stochansky, Fiona Apple and David Bowie -- just to name a few. He added depth to the show. But it was Tori's voice, her stage manner and her sexy facial expressions that really made the show shine for me.
The end of the show, was, of course, the best. Because it was Tori's birthday, and everyone was pleased to see her blow out all 40 candles on her cakes (yes, there were three). The cake cart was wheeled on stage and Tori was pulled back on stage, grateful for the gesture.
But that wasn't even the icing on the cake (pardon the pun). Ben then proceeded to sing "You Say It's Your Birthday" to Tori. It was definitely a great concert memory to see the two artists, who share only but a love for piano in common, come together. It was evident that their touring stint had developed a bond between the two.
The crowd, mostly comprised of Tori fans, went wild, and reveled in the moment, as did I. We sang "Happy Birthday" to her and I watched as Ben stood aside, clapping for her. It's always great to see two of your favorite artists together. Especially when their vastly different music doesn't matter, and their love of music itself ties them together.
During her first encore, she played "Tombigbee" and "Amber Waves." And for a welcomed second encore, she played "Landslide" "Tear In Your Hand" and "Past The Mission."
I couldn't help but feel that this was more than a concert for her, it was a chance to share her "Over the Hill" with her fans, and not once did she seem upset about having to work on her big day. I felt so honored to be there.
A giddy Tori hopped off the stage after her final song, and I turned to Dan in amazement - for Tori had left me mesmerized.
Reviewed by Kristen Pasculli