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The Rocky Mountain News
December 6, 2002

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Ann (Kai) and Donovan sent me this review of Tori's December 5, 2002 concert in Denver, CO from the December 6, 2002 edition of The Rocky Mountain News in Colorado. You can read it at or below.

"Tori Amos show falls a bit flat, but early '90s work still sharp"

By Steve Knopper
Rocky Mountain News - Colorado

When you're a rock'n'roll guitar player, and you throw yourself so thoroughly into your own music that you make uncontrollable physical gestures, it usually looks cool. When you're a classically trained pianist whose instrument of choice is a massive Bosendorfer grand, those same gestures seem much more labored.

Tori Amos, a singer-songwriter best known for her wrenching personal statements like Me and a Gun and Crucify, ended one song with a dramatic whisper and a hand raised backward, ballet-style. She sways so enthusiastically on the piano bench that she winds up sitting lengthwise, facing the crowd. Everything about her performance, from her white pattern rober to her lyrics, scream Serious Artistic Work.

What she doesn't have, with the exception of the bouncy piano line from Cornflake Girl, is catchy tunes. There are times, with her two-man heavy funk rythym section of bassist Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain, that she sounds like Madonna minus the bright, fun dance music. Opening with wampum, an a capella hymn from her latest album, the flame-haired Amos started out heavy and just got heavier.

She focused mainly on Scarlet's Walk, her recent concept album - sorry, "sonic novel" - about searching for America in the wake of Sept. 11. It's an interesting concept, actually, if only Amos hadn't couched every halfway-universal story with a completley obtuse line like "something is with us I can't put my finger on - is Thumbalina size 10 on a phantom - so we go."

That's from Wednesday, which Amos' trio peformed in a playful, countryish rythym that was far easier to understand than the song itself. The rest of her new material wasn't so easy going; Sweet Sangria, delivered after a ponderous voice-and-piano break in the middle, isn't strong enough to bear all it's weight - heavy music, heavy lyrics, heavy concept, heavy delivery.

Amos' earlier works, such as Little Earthquakes and Cornflake Girl, are at least based on bright piano riffs; in concert, with Amos doing her usual dramatic shift between deeply delivered verses and falsetto choruses, her early '90s signatures were much more effective than the overall show.

Amos, a strange character who gives interviews about the evils of exclamation points, for example, should let her personality come across more often on stage. At one point she spoke of attending the VH1 awards the previous night, then ad-libbed a short funny piano song "You got so much makeup...we could feed the world!" A few more changes of pace would ease the weight of Scarlet's Walk.

Infamous for a hard-rock false start called Y Kant Tori Read - out-of-print LPs are available on eBay - Amos began putting her classical-piano training to use in the early '90s. Her 1992 debut, Little Earthquakes, dealt with painfully serious issues such as an acquaintaince raping a femal character. All of this comes accompanied by grand-piano virtuosity more highfallutin that Elton John or Billy Joel.

Tori Amos

When and where: Magness Arena, Thursday

Grade: C-plus

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