Review and photos by Ellen Eldridge
Tori Amos spoke to me when I was 16. Not directly, but from the stage when another fan shouted, “I love you Tori!” Her return quip, “Where were you when I was 16?” instantly won me on her personality. Her persistent passion guided me through my own formative years, deeply impacting my own writing and thought patterns. During the time Amos’ own experimentation pulled away from the piano to entertain with a backing rock band, on albums like From the Choirgirl Hotel, I conducted my own experimentation in college, and pretty well lost touch with the songwriter. I certainly didn’t realize the amount of material I missed, and from Scarlet’s Walk through Midwinter Graces I’d probably only heard every other album released, and not even in full. After reviewing Night of Hunters, I felt reconnected with my idol, and after Tuesday night’s show at Cobb Energy Centre I feel my love for her resurrected.
Full gallery at the bottom of the post.
Amos asked the photography press to arrive early for a solo performance because she values her fans’ enjoyment of the show; she didn’t want us running around snapping photos during her opening number. This benefitted me well as I could concentrate fully from the start of “Shattering Sea” throughout her concert. She seemed sad or sorta seeking a sultry look, but when she started into a cover of “Landslide,” a song she has covered many times over the last decade, the aspects of aging hit home with all the fans who’ve followed her through the all-too-often silent years. Her blue dress flowed over silver stockings like water crashing on the coast of her tan spiked heels.
The fact that Night of Hunters was her first album released on a classical label (out of 12 total studio albums) surprises because the accompaniment of the Apollon Musagète Quartet fit so well with her style of music. The percussive tapping on the stringed instruments during songs like “Suede” and “Beulah Land” show that our cornflake girl has grown in an elegant woman capable of creating passionate and heavy-themed music without the aid of guitars and drums. She performed with a bittersweet air light that given off by candlelight. Throughout all her thematic collections of song she has grown, and has allowed her audience to grow with her.
Amos told us her Bösendorfer had been left behind because it didn’t work so well having reached “middle age;” she smirked as she told us how the piano didn’t play those low tones as well as its hotter, younger replacement and Amos just had to get her back for the Atlanta show.
The powerful contrast of the red lights to her blue dress as she sprawled between her piano and her keyboard added to the visual performance of “Crucify.” After every song she threw her arms outward like she was breaking free from chains, but after “Crucify” the effect struck the lyrics, “Never going back again to crucify myself,” even more.
During the B-side performance of “Here. In My Head,” the stage lights appeared as a crown behind Amos’ head with three streams of white light bookended by two streams of purple light, majestically framing both the pianist and her song as she played. Having a history with an artist’s songs will always impact the perception of the live performance, and it was at this point of the show that I felt like I was having a religious experience. Watching Amos sing “Here. In My Head,” belting out “Hey, do you know what this is doing to me?” made me want to cry for having lost touch, but she lifted all spirits with her sexy yet classy pantomime during the repeated lyric “here” by touching her heart, her crotch, then her head.
Another favorite with personal history was “Maybe California,” during which my neighbor asked me to name the song for his girlfriend who left to use the restroom. Perhaps out of sheer love of the moment he decided to purchase a program for me when his girlfriend returned. This simple act of seemingly random kindness reaffirmed my faith in the fans of Tori Amos, genuinely making me smile.
One of the closing performances was an instrumental piece performed solely by the quartet, dedicated to Tori, according to the program, with the first letter in the song title, “A Multitude of Shades,” spelling Amos.
For those fans who have loved Amos since Little Earthquakes through those who only recently discovered her on Night of Hunters, the show felt spectacular in sound, emotion, and vision.