Tori Amos, Scott Matthews
Marisa L 11/05/2009
Tori Amos is best known for her enigmatic piano-driven songs and unique style. She has been in the music industry for 20 years and remained under the mainstream radar, though she has a dedicated fan base across the world. This was demonstrated in her recent exclusive performance at London's Savoy Theatre, where a sold-out crowd marveled at her ability to charm and entertain with ease and poise. She wore a long, red one-strap dress with black sequin stars and a sheer long-sleeved shirt underneath. Her fiery red trademark hair was long and straight with a fringe.
The set-up was simple, but awe-inspiring as she was flanked by both a piano and keyboard and occasionally turned to play them simultaneously- an amazing talent discovered by a bored, young Tori at church. There's something special about having a performance from Tori with just her and a piano- or two, in this case. The stripped down arrangement added to the intimate and personal feel of the show. She weaved in narrative with song, and her performance was enhanced by hand gestures in a manner of storytelling that would send a child to sleep with fanciful dreams.
She did not open as expected with her new single, "Welcome to England," but a stunning rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat." The songs she performed from her new album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, are tamer than many found on her last album, American Doll Posse, and are a return to the calmer, more meditative sound on earlier albums. The other songs performed from her new album were “Lady in Blue,” “Curtain Call,” “Maybe California,” and the attention-grabbing “Mary Jane.” “Mary Jane” definitely stood out as the most controversial of her new songs, as on the surface it seems to explore a boy's introduction into sexual maturity as he expresses, “Mom, I want to forni- I mean formulate and discover the realms of the unknown with Mary Jane.” However, like many of Tori Amos's songs, there is more than meets the eye- or ear, rather- and closer attention to lyrics would indicate that it is, actually, a drug reference, “She even bakes these odd brownies…I believe in her family, on her maternal side, there was a Dr Tetra-hydro-cannabinol, pure isomer Dronabinol.”
She was sure to include a few favourites, such as "Silent All These Years," "Crucify," and “Leather” from her 1992 debut album, Little Earthquakes. An even more familiar cover was "Over The Rainbow," originally sung by the great Judy Garland.
All of the songs on her set list flowed beautifully together as if on one cohesive album. There was a blast from the past with “Cool on Your Island,” from her early band, Y Kant Tori Read. Other songs from the set included “Putting the Damage On” from Boys for Pele (1996), “Jackie's Strength” on From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998), “Taxi Ride” and “Wednesday” from Scarlet's Walk (2002), and “Barons of Suburbia” from The Beekeeper (2005).
She interacted well with the crowd, and there was a feeling of close connectedness to her and the lives of the people in her songs. Even though the crowd was packed, there was a distinct feeling that she was singing solely to each and every audience member. After listening to live recordings of other Tori Amos performances, it becomes clear that she puts special care into making each performance unique and unforgettable and this was no different.