Read a press review of Tori's April 24, 2005 show in San Francisco, CA from the April 27, 2005 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thanks to Missy, Jean Liu and Rich for telling me about this press review, which you can read online at sfgate.com or below. I would check the version at sfgate.com because while the review is not all that positive, there is a gorgeous color photo from the show! (You can read all of The Dent's San Francisco reviews here.)
Pretty in pink but just a bit too precious
Neva Chonin, Chronicle Critic at Large
Tori Amos' wardrobe summed up her Sunday concert at Davies Symphony Hall: Flowing and lovely, but less than dynamic. Raising a leg to show the audience the harem pants she wore below her diaphanous pink dress, Amos joked that she wouldn't be "going down under" (a reference to forthcoming Australian concerts) during the show. True to her word, Amos kept her performance in the ethereal realm, sticking to lush, slow songs that spotlighted her voice and virtuoso keyboard talents.
Unfortunately, excessive beauty can undo itself. Amos' two-hour solo set would have benefited from getting down and a little dirty. An exercise in gorgeous textures and melodies, it lacked vitality, as each number blurred into the next with a grace that was often too seamless for its own good.
Amos' latest album, "The Beekeeper," suffers from a similar malady -- it's so sweetly introspective that it lacks the quirky wonder of her earlier releases, where surging piano ballads were balanced by playful splashes of honky-tonk and spoken word. This might be a sign of maturity, but it's also a loss; Amos has always excelled in conveying mood, and her mood these days is mellifluous to the point of sounding medicated.
Technically, there was little to fault during Sunday's show. From a soaring opener of "Original Sinsuality" to a final encore of "Leather," Amos proved that she's still at the top of her artistic game. Her voice is huskier, but still rich and compelling; her frequent switches between four instruments (a grand piano, two organs and an electric keyboard) were effortless. She still tackles her music with a sexuality seldom seen among pianists, humping the bench, hammering the keys and responding ecstatically to melodic crescendos.
Most songs spotlighted her piano, with atmospheric backup from a Hammond organ. For "Little Amsterdam," "Marys of the Sea" and "Mother Revolution," Amos straddled the bench to play both instruments simultaneously. She turned to her secondary keyboards at set's close to deliver an electric-piano driven "Bells For Her" and a hymnlike run through "The Beekeeper."
There's no denying Amos proved her remarkable talent on Sunday. And yet, and yet. With a few exceptions -- aching renditions of older tracks like "Mother," "China" and "Icicle," a kinetic delivery of "Space Dog" -- the show floated when it would have benefited from touching earth. Covers of Cat Stevens' "Moon Shadow" (in which Amos became deliciously whimsical) and George Michael's "Father Figure" (boasting considerably more gravitas than the original) only highlighted the main set's elegant monotony.
Opening act Matt Nathanson went to the opposite extreme, leaning on earthy humor and audience-participation shtick between songs. He needn't have bothered. His slick singer-songwriter pop could have stood on its own. Now, if only he had goosed Amos occasionally, inspiring some of her idiosyncratic vocal hiccups and thus breaking up the relentless prettiness, we might have had a perfect show.
E-mail Neva Chonin at email@example.com.