A review of the May 7, 2005 concert in Sydney, Australia appeared in the May 9, 2005 edition of The Australian.
You can read this review online at theaustralian.news.com.au or below. (You can read all The Dent reviews for this Sydney show here.)
Intense presence proves unengaging
Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, May 7. QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane tomorrow, Hamer Hall, Melbourne May 12, Opera House, Sydney May 14, Concert Hall, Perth May 15, Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide May 16. All shows sold out except Perth - tickets $99, BOCS Ticketing or Phonecharge (08) 9484 1133.
IT has been more than 10 years since Tori Amos graced an Australian stage and judging by the deafening barrage of devotion coming from the floor of the concert hall this is a long-overdue return.
Just what has earned her such a dedicated following is harder to pin down. Amos emerged in the early 1990s as a wake-up call to the singer-songwriting tradition, tackling complex issues of love, spirituality and sexuality on albums Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink and Boys for Pele. Her flamboyant piano stylings only added to the potion. She was dubbed one of the most important female singer-songwriters of her generation. She was also labelled kookie - in a Kate Bush kind of way - by some critics.
Whatever she is, she has lost none of her presence as a performer. She needs it too, to hold an audience for 90 minutes with just three keyboards for company. Wearing a flowing white dress, her long red hair following suit, she strides the piano stool, swinging herself around from one keyboard to the other. For most of the set she appears totally immersed in her world.
The 41-year-old songwriter covers most points of her career: Silent All These Years and Leather from Little Earthquakes, her early hit Cornflake Girl, plus Blood Roses from her best and most confronting album, Boys For Pele.
And at last we have a rock performer whose set is done justice by the unpredictable acoustics of the Opera House's concert hall. Amos's voice - still a distinctive and powerful, note-perfect tool - is allowed an extra ethereal tone here and her accompaniment, unencumbered by percussion or guitars, thrives in the hallowed surroundings. Even her breath sounds good.
Amos is a strange and complex character, something that is reflected in all of her work but most significantly and, at times bewilderingly, on her latest album, The Beekeeper. Mother Revolution, one of the 19 titles from it, is also one of her best readings of the night as she digs deep to wring every nuance from the worldly wise lyrics.
There's an interlude dubbed Tori's Piano Bar, where the singer indulges herself in a couple of cover versions. It is, most likely, the only time the Opera House will rock to the sounds of AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long and Madonna's Like a Prayer played back to back on the grand piano.
Amos is not, she tells us, the warm and fuzzy type. The intensity of her performance here confirms it. She is talented certainly, but to this listener there is something oddly contrived and unengaging about her oeuvre. You get it or you don't. Call me warm and fuzzy, but I'm in the latter camp.