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A review of Tori's August 27, 2005 show in Toronto, Canada from Excalibur, the newspaper for York University in Toronto
September 7, 2005

Updated Thu, Sep 08, 2005 - 2:41am ET

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Read a press review of Tori's August 27, 2005 show in Toronto, Canada from the September 7, 2005 edition of Excalibur, the newspaper for York University in Toronto.

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Written by Shetu Modi - Arts Editor

The 'raisin girl' is captivating even when her material's not

I went into a flurry of excitement when I heard my musical obsession would be taking to the Molson Amphitheatre stage mid-way through her Summer of Sin tour on August 27.

Tori Amos, the red-haired singer-songwriter-pianist known for "fucking the piano" played beautifully solo, incorporating organs and the Rhodes piano into the show. The venue was about half full (others may say it was half empty), but the fun loving and appreciative crowd definitely ensured that it did not sound that way.

I arrived early in the afternoon because I knew that the faerie worshipping songstress had conducted meet and greets in almost every other city she had toured. She, however, chose not to appease her Toronto fans, perhaps because of the on-and-off rain. Along with other disappointed concert-goers, I had to settle for sticking my head through the bars at the gate and listening to her sound check, during which she played the openings of most of the songs on her set list. I later realized that this wasn't the best idea, as I would have enjoyed the songs more that night had they come as surprises. But when I heard the opening notes of 1998's "Spark", I just couldn't turn away.

Satisfying my fandom was easier at the merchandise booth, which meant watching the first opening act, The Like, on a monitor - the lead singer looked as if she could be the sixth sister in the movie version of The Virgin Suicides. The all girl band sounded promising, but my friends and I only saw their last song live before they abruptly quit the stage.

The carnival atmosphere emanating from Ontario Place, the CNE and Cirque du Soleil seeped onto the stage when Tori's second opening act, The Ditty Bops, came on. Animated theatrics made the pop-rock-cabaret stylings of their upbeat sounding music even more enjoyable. Wearing a tall hat atop an unnatural shade of red hair, Amanda Barrett (mandolin and dulcimer) brought five balloons onto the stage and popped each one during a song about someone's head being too big. Barrett even did a gleeful little dance during the cover "Sister Kate" in accordance with the shimmying title character of the song. Abby DeWald, the other half of the duo, played acoustic guitar.

Several members of the audience, not content to express their excitement through mere applause or cheering, began waving at Tori Amos as her silhouette became visible behind the curtain, mimicking her trademark double-hand wave. She returned the gesture as she made her way to her position between the Bosendorfer piano and B3 Hammond organ and then, on the piano, launched into the song she has been opening each show on her tour with: "Original Sinsuality".

The song is off her latest album, The Beekeeper, and its lyrics are unexpectedly stupid (she renames original sin original sinsuality), especially coming from a woman who wrote the line "So you can make me cum, that doesn't make you Jesus." But Tori performs with such passion that I actually enjoyed this song, as well as the other songs off the disappointing and lacklustre Beekeeper. Even the gratingly annoying "Cars And Guitars" and the bland "General Joy" sounded good, proving that her place on Rolling Stone's list of the top twenty artists to see live was well-deserved.

I gasped when she followed "Original Sinsuality" with 1994's "Icicle", from her second album (or third, if you count the now infamous pop flop Y Kant Tori Read) Under the Pink. Who other than Tori could write such an emotionally powerful song about masturbation?

"Blood Roses" from 1996's Boys for Pele gave Tori the chance to display the talent she has for handling two instruments at once. She played most of the song on the Hammond organ but later, she actually played both the piano and the organ at the same time. Even though I'd rather the Hammond not come on tour next time, it makes her songs sound like what I imagine to be chamber music - Tori's latest rendition of "Blood Roses" was stirring, appropriately creepy and as indescribable as the recorded harpsichord version. It was also one of the higher energy songs she chose to play that night.

I gasped for the second time when she began her second encore with "Putting The Damage On", which is almost certainly a ballad about a break-up, but sometimes Tori's constant metaphorical lyricism makes it hard to tell. The line "I'm trying not to move, it's just your ghost passing through" is heartbreaking even on the rare occasion that it's not infused with passion.

Tori seemed rather cheerful, matching the spirits of the audience members who often vocalized their enthusiasm. She said to the audience that "anyone who doesn't know these songs deserves a spanking," referring to the two Canadian songs she covered: "If You Could Read My Mind" by Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". But Tori's famous kookiness didn't show itself fully until her Cleveland show, at which she dressed up as Princess Leia and asked the audience to dress up as Star Wars characters in honour of her daughter's fifth birthday.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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