A review of Tori's July 27, 2003 concert in Eugene, OR appeared in the July 29, 2003 edition of The Register-Guard newspaper.
Thanks to Treva for telling me about the review. You can read it online at registerguard.com or below:
Concert Review: Amos, Folds hit the right keys at Cuthbert
By Lewis Taylor
The piano took center stage during the Tori Amos and Ben Folds concert Sunday at the Cuthbert Amphitheater.
First it was Folds playing a black Baldwin during his opening set, and then Amos and her trademark Bosendorfer grand piano, an instrument the size of a sub-compact car. Her performance, a nearly two-hour affair, took a half-full amphitheater audience on a tour that departed from her latest album, "Scarlet's Walk," and then skipped back and forth between the old and the new stuff.
Part of the aptly titled Lottapianos Tour, Sunday's show brought together two different styles of piano playing. Folds' jagged style melded well with Amos' lubricious playing; while Folds was all good humor during his opening set, Amos radiated a deeper, almost spiritual vibe. His songs turned in on themselves, her songs unfurled like peacock feathers to reveal more and more colors.
Amos's music wasn't the only thing with color. A vision in a flowing sheer white fabric blouse with turquoise highlights, she wore denim capri pants and platform sandals (how on Earth does she work the pedals with that kind of footwear?) and allowed her long red hair to trail down her back.
"She's got mad style" acknowledged a fan from an audience that seemed heavy on red-headed women with similar fashion sense.
Amos knows how to make an entrance. After an off-stage reading of "wampum prayer," a musical benediction from "Scarlet's Walk," she skipped across the stage to the opening drumbeat of her most radio-friendly new song, "a sorta fairytale." She waved too many times to count, bowed down with both arms in front of her and took a seat at the piano.
Amos was at her cat-like best, growling and purring out the lyrics to audience favorites such as "God" and "Cornflake Girl." On "Take to the Sky," she crescendoed into a Carole King flourish. On the dramatic "Father Lucifer" she swiveled on her stool, alternating between piano and two other keyboards behind her.
Still, Amos' new songs held up remarkably well alongside the older ones. Her latest release, a concept album about one woman's journey around the country, posed some challenges as far as live performance goes, but Amos managed to thread the songs into her set list without disrupting their narrative.
Amos' liquid voice held up well in the outdoor setting, cutting one moment and taking flight the next. She leavened the thumping, bass-heavy sounds of her rhythm section with her fluttering voice and flowing piano runs, and also joined them at the low end for some thundering chords and throaty singing.
As the opening act, Folds won over some new fans, who seemed surprised by his charisma. The waiter-turned-piano-rocker offered a playful set filled with banter. Wearing a hipster wardrobe that included a green T-shirt and a plaid fishing hat, he made fun of talentless new metal bands, trashed Spin magazine and credited Amos with being one of the artists whose playing persuaded him to give up a career in the service industry and focus on his music.
He hammered at the piano, slopped out some irreverent numbers from his new EP "Speed Graphic" and (give him points for trying) even attempted somewhat unsuccessfully to get the crowd to harmonize along with his songs.
Folds showed his propensity for crouching at the piano in a bent knee stance. Amos preferred a lioness-like straddle of the piano bench, stretching one leg forward toward the pedals and letting the other drape behind her. Using her hollow-cheeked smile to great effect, Amos showed her mastery of not only the piano, but also the sexy sideways glance. This was her reward to the cultish admirers who crowded the stage to get a piece of the performer.
R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe once jokingly asked Amos if he could borrow her fans, and it was clear on Sunday just how taken her supporters are with her. At least one woman was hustled out of the amphitheater after she tried to get on stage. After the show, a group of fans dove over a retaining wall to retrieve Amos' discarded set list.
Amos' final song, a cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be," showed her singing earnestly and shaking off a night's worth of perspiration. Did she put her imprint on the song? Not really - her syrupy version could have been used in a figure skating routine - but, based on where she's been coming from lately, it's probably safe to say she was more concerned with the message.
Plus, it's a piano song.