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December 2, 2002

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Kim Westervelt, Chris Kyllander, Shira, Tim McCubrey, Amy (amykomo) and Bryan Bick sent me the following review of Tori's November 30, 2002 concert in Minneapolis, MN from the December 2, 2002 edition of the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis. You can read it below or at

Review: Tori Amos concert reflects new album's mood

Published Dec. 2, 2002

Everyone at Northrop Auditorium hung on every word, gesture and piano note that emanated from rock heroine Tori Amos on Saturday night -- except one of her sound engineers.

She gave thumbs down with her left hand to indicate that the left-hand side of the piano,-- the bass notes -- was too loud. But the sound engineer didn't get the message. So Amos ad libbed a little tune on her Bosendorfer grand piano:

"My Bosendorfer is resonating
and it's driving me insane.
So maybe we should shift things.
Can you do something with this bottom?
Turn it down a couple of dBs (decibels).
This Bosendorfer is my friend
but she's pretty big."

Message delivered; mission accomplished. But, more importantly, Amos injected a little humor and a little personality into a 125-minute concert that was a little too solemn, but musically rewarding and often spellbinding.

Still, the reaction from the sold-out crowd seemed less rabid than the response at previous Amos concerts in the Twin Cities. Maybe that was because there were more men than usual at the concert (date night?). Or maybe it was because Amos, who often performs solo, had two sidemen. Or maybe it was because the focus of the set was material from her new CD, "Scarlet's Walk," which is more contemplative than cathartic.

The most-ambitious piano woman in pop, Amos, 39, comes across like Stevie Nicks' red-headed stepchild raised on Joni Mitchell and Mozart. She always has taken on Big Subjects, including rape and religion. Her latest topic is the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America.

Nine of the 23 numbers on Saturday came from "Scarlet's Walk," a post 9/11 travelogue that examines "the nightmares of the soul of Americans," as Amos has said. There were no spoken introductions to set up the pieces, as the singer/songwriter had done Saturday afternoon during a two-song radio performance on Cities 97-FM when she explained that "Strange" was written between "Minne and Madison."

In concert, the tunes from "Scarlet's Walk" took on a different feel; the music was less about textures and more about groove. Matt Chamberlain's drums drove the sound and Jon Evans' five-string bass defined it, with, surprisingly, Amos' piano (which was too low in the mix, especially early on) taking a back seat and mostly becoming just another percussion instrument.

Even on oldies, the sidemen dominated. Evans' big rumbling bass took over "Take to the Sky" and his big rolling bass put the crunch in "Cornflake Girl," while Chamberlain's spacey drums redefined "Crucify" into a trancelike mantra, underscored by Amos' eerie chantlike vocals.

During a short solo piano set, Amos was strikingly tuneful on Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat," but she was at her best with her band on the intense, dramatic, caterwauling "Lust," which was complemented by swirling light patterns.

Other than introducing the band and singing three improvised comments (one was about the Minnesota weather, one about performing the solo set, the other about the Bosendorfer), Amos said nothing. She did reach out to her fans in her own way during the closing "Tear in Your Hand;" as she sang "time to wave goodbye," she flapped her fingers like a 2-year-old, a gesture that everyone understood, including the sound engineer.

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