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Las Vegas Review-Journal
December 16, 2002

Added January 4, 2003

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Migennes sent me the following review of Tori's December 14, 2002 concert in Las Vegas, NV from the December 16, 2002 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. You can read it below or at, where you will also see a color photo.

LOST LYRICS: Amos allows band to drown her out

Star singer fails concert fans by refusing to go solo


I first heard Tori Amos at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1992. Here was this frazzled rash of a wire singing private, angry songs about how her scream got lost in a paper cup. And rape:

"It was me and a gun and a man on my back," she sang. "And I sang 'holy holy' as he buttoned down his pants."

Amos was dazzling. Brilliant. She straddled a piano bench. She assaulted and sensualized it. She played piano like no one else did. She uncorked an intuitive chaos of running, skipping, pounding and balking.

Her voice was a symphony. It found power in the vulnerability of emotional wounds and big questions. She soared high. She rumbled low. She cracked in all the opposite ways of pop music.

Amos, 39, still seems to play that emotionally, but who can hear her over her band? Years ago, she gave up solo-piano concerts for the security blanket of touring with a band, which robs her of her personality and insistence.

When Amos played at the Hard Rock on Saturday, her bass guitarist alone drowned out almost every word and piano flourish. It was not the Hard Rock's fault. It was not necessarily her sound operators' fault. It was Amos' fault for touring as a group.

On albums, Amos works fantastically with bands. Studio engineers shade their instrumentations down to atmospheric nubs. But on stage, Amos is like a character actor in a film. She works right only in one part, as a soloist. That way, the listener can hear her incisive lyrics, her stunning delivery and her unique finger work.

Maybe Amos doesn't like carrying a show by herself. Maybe she prefers touring with other stage musicians. Maybe she listens to her shows afterward on soundboard tapes and thinks they're fine. But soundboard tapes equalize and fix problems.

I wish Amos could sit in the middle of a venue and listen to herself in person. Then she would get the same experience that three friends of mine and I had. Each of us is a serious fan, and each was very bored and frustrated. I could discern maybe 4 percent of her words and inflections.

My friends complained most about Amos' song selection. As usual, Amos ignored most of her signature songs. She changes set lists each night, just as Bob Dylan and other cult figures do. That's understandable. She could get bored if she were to play the same songs at every concert.

But it's also fans' privilege to feel discouraged that Amos performed band-killing versions of "Caught A Lite Sneeze" and "Liquid Diamonds" instead of solo takes on the phenomenal "Past The Mission" or her finest confidence, "God," in which the daughter of a minister directly addresses the all-powerful:

"God, sometimes you just don't come through. Do you need a woman to look after you? ... Tell me you're crazy. Maybe then I'll understand. You got your nine iron in the back seat. Just in case."

It would have helped if she had played her newer, astonishingly creepy, noir cover of Eminem's " '97 Bonnie & Clyde." Her album version nailed the demented evil of Eminem's woman-hatred better than 100 essays ever could.

But Amos' song list could have worked if she had just gone solo. For instance, "Black-Dove (January)" is an amazing song on the album "From The Choirgirl Hotel." But it and other towering poems and prose were obscured to nothing in concert.

She did do three solo songs, midshow. "Cloud On My Tongue" was warm and rich with her heavy and percussive off-balance piano playing and her arching, aching vocals. And earlier in the day, she performed solo for a radio promotion on KMXB-radio, FM 94.1 and she was stellar.

As smart and original as Amos is, she sometimes tends to behave publicly as if no one matters but herself. Once before in Vegas, she walked off stage because a fan was talking. At the Hard Rock, she laid down rules; fans weren't allowed to return to their $55 seats if they went to the restroom late in the two-hour show, blah blah blah.

Whims are the artist's prerogative. But it is fans' prerogative to stop wasting time and spirit on her concerts, and to seek satisfaction instead solely from her searing albums.

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