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A review of Tori's Grand Rapids show from The Grand Rapids Press
March 13, 2003

Updated Sat, Mar 15, 2003 - 1:05am ET

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Thanks to [/b]Steven Stromp[/b] and Chloe for sending this to me.

Amos the artist: The glory of Tori is she's outspokenly understated
By John Serba

It must have been the shoes.

Tori Amos' footwear may have inspired her performance Wednesday night at DeVos Performance Hall: Bubblegum-pink, toes pointy like a slice of pizza, heels stiletto-spiky with big, ballerina-ribbon straps that looked like dogs' tongues wrapped around her ankles. She even kicked her feet up on the keys of her Bosendorfer grand piano, showing off her flashy footwear as she sang a ditty devoted to "little pink shoes."

When she trotted off-stage prior to an encore, I was prompted to ask, "How can she run in those things?" To which my concert-going companion, a devoted Toriphile, responded, "Because she doesn't touch the ground."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

To say that Tori's two-hour show, for a near-capacity crowd of about 2,200, was inspired is a bit of an understatement. Backed by drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Jon Evans, she spanned her back catalog, mined heavily from superb 2002 album "Scarlet's Walk," threw in a couple of choice cover songs and B-sides and was consistently riveting throughout. Just another night for Tori Amos, who's chameleonic set list changes radically from show to show.

It helps that she keeps fans on their hopefully sensibly shod toes, whether experimenting with the arrangements of "God" and "Caught a Lite Sneeze" or turning away from the Bosendorfer for the Wurlitzer piano burbles of the Stranglers' tune "Strange Little Girl" or performing a three-song solo set consisting of poetic "Scarlet's Walk" tune "Carbon," lusty romp "Leather" and rare track "Here. In My Head."

Oddly, Amos, despite having cheeky tour T-shirts for sale poking at President Bush, rarely addressed the fans, preferring to wave cutely and bow before and after her two encores. Only opening act Rhett Miller singer for roots-country rockers the Old 97's, who played a solo, 30-minute set of quirky acoustic pop referred to the impending war with Iraq as "a sham," a comment that instigated cheers from the crowd.

But it's refreshing that Amos, instead of imposing her opinion, preferred to let her fingers do the talking, be it via powerful piano ballad "A Sorta Fairytale," uptempo jaunts "Cornflake Girl" and "Wednesday" or wispy, ethereal pieces "Liquid Diamonds" and "I Can't See New York."

In the past, Amos has toured with only her piano in tow for intimacy, or with a full, guitar-drums-bass rock band for more bombast; Wednesday's show was a perfect balance of the two extremes, Chamberlain and Evans adding muscle to "Girl," helping bring show highlights "Take to the Sky" and "iiee" to an intense, fevered pitch and creating additional textures for "Horses" and "Riot Poof." A stellar DeVos Hall mix, never overpowering or too restrained, certainly helped.

Avoiding obvious songwriting cliche, Amos' straightforward, midtempo tunes "Sweet Sangria," "Strange" and "Amber Waves" brought an emotional ambiguity to the table, challenging the audience to further examine the music; rarely does she take the easy way out and fill sad songs with minor chords and happy tunes with quick tempos. Instead, melodies stubbornly refuse to become pop hooks, and she doesn't oversing (a la Mariah, Christina) or use her considerably powerful vocal prowess to garner cheap cheers., which only further cements her as one of the most inspiring and important songwriters to emerge during the 1990s.

Her songs are engaging and poetic, her concerts are engrossing and oozing with credibility, her musicianship is top-shelf -- and her shoes are scary and exciting. They'd be horrid on anyone's feet but hers.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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