A review of Tori's August 30th Raleigh, NC concert appeared in the September 1, 2003 edition of the Kinston Free Press newspaper, based in Kinston, NC.
Thanks to Woj for alerting me to this. You can read this press review at kinston.com or below:
Tori Amos delivers pounding, soothing show
By Jason Spencer
Growing up, girls typically mature faster than boys.
At 40, pianist Tori Amos proves that she has weathered more than one emotional storm and, to critics and fans alike, is taking a more grown-up approach to her trade.
The angst and emotional turmoil that fueled most of Amos' early career remains. Rather than a driving force, though, they fall in as minor building blocks in the foundation of Amos' most recent work. Chalk it up as experience.
The singer recently told a Florida newspaper that she considers her latest album, "Scarlet's Walk," the opening chapter of her life's second book. Amos gave fans a glimpse of that chapter Saturday in Raleigh, along with a plentiful number of footnotes from the past.
In the few scattered interviews she grants, Amos has not tried to hide the things now important to her - namely, her husband and 2-year-old daughter.
The singer's angelic voice still breaks away into soul-stirring wailing, though now much more comfortably. Biting lyrics still have their teeth - they just don't cut as deep. Tension still underlies most songs, but relief is much more apparent.
"A Sorta Fairytale," the No. 2 track off of "Scarlet's Walk," opened Saturday's show. Fan favorites "In the Springtime of his Voodoo" and "God" highlighted the early part of her Raleigh performance. So did the sweltering humidity.
"God, it is so good to be back here in North Carolina. I love it hot!" Amos, a North Carolina native, told the crowd after her first three songs. That was the only time she spoke to the audience.
To some, though, the silhouette of the scarlet beauty's slender, writhing body between a classical and electric piano spoke volumes.
Impressively, she often faced the audience, playing the classical piano with her left hand, an electric piano with her right. Occasionally, in a quick pause from playing, Amos would issue a dramatic sharp turn to stare out into the audience.
Or through it. The fiery princess might have built her pedestal too high. The further Tori delved into her extensive catalog of music, the more apparent was the missing "edge" a younger, more frazzled version of the singer produced.
While earlier songs seemed lacking, most of the tunes from the latest album sounded better than their studio counterparts. Eclectic lyrics from songs like "Crazy" - "He said, First let's unzip your religion down' " - prove that she's still got it. "It" is just a little different.
The old anger seems to be fading, but the pain isn't. Amos' slender fingers delicately washed over the piano keys during "White Horses," making each note sound like a tear falling.
More than two hours into the show, the old Tori peeked through. She playfully rolled her tongue during "Cornflake Girl," and seductively rubbed her hands down her trim stomach during "pancake."
Flirting with the crowd stopped - albeit abruptly - for Amos to deliver a captivating performance of the 9/11-inspired "I Can't See New York." Awesome drums followed to introduce a knockout rendition of "Precious Things," which contains one of several hints to the singer's past relationship with Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor.
Amos began running her hands up her legs when she delivered the pulse-pounding hit from her 1992 album "Little Earthquakes." She seemed to be just getting started when she ran off the stage, frolicking and flapping her hands like a little girl.
Tori returned for two encores, leading off with a great performance of "Caught a Light Sneeze" - the source of another Nine Inch Nails reference - "Black Dove" and "Amber Waves," a song about a reformed porn star.
The singer wore a black mesh shawl over blue jeans and a black tank top, and complemented the outfit with fluorescent green stiletto heels.
Amos played an even mix of songs from all of her albums Saturday. Regrettably, though, that meant omitting many of the tunes from "Little Earthquakes," which is considered by many to be the artist's best work.
For better or for worse, "Scarlet's Walk" seems like it will produce more radio hits than any other in Amos' pantheon of albums.
Is it still rock 'n' roll? Maybe. But to the mob of 20ish women holding each other's hands, Tori still speaks directly to each one.
Song topics include rape, molestation and coping with a miscarriage. Now, though, Amos deals with her past with a pen and a bit of humor, she said in past interviews.
For his part, North Carolina native Ben Folds, who opened Saturday's show, seemed to have a blast. Folds began his set with a cover of George Michael's "Careless Whisper" to a handful of chuckles. During the song, he carefully paused to point out the "best part."
The young singer and former Chapel Hill performer didn't hesitate to mention all the nearby places he's lived, including Winston-Salem and Greensboro. He passionately told a story of working at a Hardee's drive-through, and occasionally being allowed to drive the company's delivery truck to its Rocky Mount headquarters.
Ben Folds named his high school nemesis. He told a story about someone on acid who climbed a tree and became a born-again Christian. His playful, philosophic musings focused on angry, middle-class white guys. He directed an audience sing-along from on top of a piano.
Ben Folds' performance was much more fun. But then again, boys don't mature as fast as girls.
Jason Spencer can be reached at (252) 527-3191, Ext. 237, or Jason_Spencer@link.freedom.com