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Seattle Times
December 12, 2002

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Jenny Wilson sent me the following review of Tori's December 10, 2002 concert in Seattle, WA from the December 12, 2002 edition of the Seattle Times. Read the article below or at (Thanks to Richard Handal for the URL.)

Concert Review
New songs but same passion from Tori Amos

By Chris Nelson
Special to The Seattle Times

Singer/songwriter Tori Amos may be rock's finest practitioner of inside baseball. At KeyArena Tuesday, she said few words and made ever fewer overtures to the uninitiated, but spoke volumes to those in the know with gestures, inflections and song choices.

Amos drew wide acclaim with her stark 1991 debut, "Little Earthquakes," and she's earned eight Grammy nominations since. All the while, she's cultivated legions of die-hard supporters. You won't find droves of casual Tori fans the way you find herds attracted to Dave Matthews. Most listeners buy wholeheartedly into her confessional and confrontational work and feminist, earthy politics, or they toss the lot out the window.

Amos developed that following in part through intimate solo performances, but on Tuesday she brought along bassist Jon Evans and Seattle drummer Matt Chamberlain, the onetime Pearl Jam member who's also played with the Wallflowers, David Bowie and locals Critters Buggin'.

On "Caught a Lite Sneeze," from 1996's "Boys for Pele," the three players wove a tight fabric of sound. Intricate though their respective lines were, Amos and Chamberlain stayed out of each other's way like professional dancers.

But on "Wednesday," a smart, buoyant, McCartney-ish tune from her new "Scarlet's Walk" album, Amos made no effort to bring the audience along with her. While Amos is famous for spending time with fans before shows, onstage she acted only in service to the songs. Either you got it or you didn't she wasn't up there to make converts.

Or, to put it terms she herself might be comfortable with, Amos will reach those who need her to reach them.

She did loosen up a bit for a mini solo set halfway through the show, during which she improvised a tune obviously aimed at an administration headed to war. "Boy Wonder back in his little house painted white/ Doesn't know what's right/ The world is looking to you." "Precious Things," an older song about surviving abuse in a Christian school, also struck a chord as the Catholic church continues to struggle with its abuse scandal.

Amos' new disc, "Scarlet's Walk," loosely follows a woman named Scarlet as she makes her way around the country, uncovering native history and her own disillusionment. It comes in a line of pop-music travel works, from Johnny Cash's Americana records of the 1960s to Simon and Garfunkel's "America."

But where Cash presented records like "Ride This Train" with pedantic spoken narratives, Amos presents her story in gauzy snippets. Where Simon went from the Great Lakes to the East Coast in a single song, Amos uses a 74-minute album to hit all 50 states on a tortured route that requires a literal map if the listener is to follow where Scarlet is going.

In concert, the new tune "Taxi Ride" found its power in Chamberlain's thick groove and Amos' smoky keys. It didn't need the album's story.

And the die-hard fans knew the tale by heart already anyway.

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