First Tori Concert Review On RDT - May 11 1992
Added July 11, 1997
Richard Handal has sent to me a posting that was made to the Really Deep Thoughts mailing list on May 11, 1992 by Ken Bibb. It reviews Tori's May 10, 1992 concert in San Diego, California at Sound FX. It WAS the first large, descriptive review written and posted by a subscriber to RDT.
>From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ken Bibb)
First of all, I wasn't in a good mood--I had a bicycling accident and my arm was in serious pain. Secondly, the drunk guy next to the only open seat in the place (unfortunately in the fourth row ;) ) was a big Marillion fan and wanted to talk ENDLESSLY about prog rock (if I had been in a better mood...). So to begin with, the atmosphere was definitely lacking.
I missed Dandelion Wine because my car (a British Triumph Spitfire) had decided to spew some unindentified part onto the freeway. I pulled over and tried to figure out what had gone wrong, but...
She played Sound FX (a small club in the Kearny Mesa part of San Diego). The place was packed, and many of the people had never heard ANYTHING by Tori. Front row center was Adrian (from CD Sounds) and a couple of his prog rock friends. They had arrived early to guarantee that they'd have great seats.
The stage was bare except for the grand piano (black), a stool, three mikes (two on the piano--personally I think the piano miking job was the pits) and a bottle of what appeared to be Evian. Tori came out in a backless, flesh colored leotard or one piece bathing suit with markings which made it look like a bikini top. She sat down and launched into an impressive version of "Little Earthquakes".
I've seen the previous reviews, but I really wasn't expecting her voice to be that *loud* (when she wanted it to be). No compression here, her voice truly used the full range of dynamics. Another thing that wasn't emphasized is that she uses her songs as... canvases? The words are (usually) what you expect from the record, but the melodies swoop and billow with her moods. Her piano accompaniment would sometimes be recognizable, but at other times, it was just "there".
Her singing was elemental. It was primal and pure, reminiscent not really of Kate Bush (though the intonation is there on the high notes), but more of Janis Joplin. Tori is an individual possessed, someone who is taking chances in a big way. She cracks notes, is flat sometimes, sharp other times, misses notes completely, and blows out speaker(s) (at least one at this concert) with her powerful voice. But she is wonderful despite these "errors". She's not after a Julliard, note-perfect recital. She's interested in communication, and here it works.
She played most of the songs off of "Little Earthquakes". (She didn't do "Girl" or "Tear In Your Hand".) She did "Upside Down" and the three previously mentioned covers ("Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Whole Lotta Love", and "Angie"). She (as expected) ignored the cries for "Y Kant Tori Read" material, but did play a few bars from "Bohemian Rhapsody". ("I don't know that song and I'm not going to embarass myself by trying it. [pause] Well, someone hum how it starts. That sounds pitiful! Come on, hum the song!". The front row started "is this the real life--or is this fantasy" and she joined in starting with the piano intro. "Mama--just killed a man" a couple more measures, she stopped, "I don't know that one.")
She introduced the first encore with "I often get lost backstage. I was looking for the bathroom. All the water, you know." Another interesting moment came before "Silent All These Years". "I hate my grandmother. Now I know that it's mother's day and all. She's from Virginia. They think this song is shit in Virginia." And she dedicated "Me and A Gun" to the girl in Ireland after saying that "a movie" ("Thelma and Louise") awoke memories that she needed to deal with..
A powerful show from a powerful performer.
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