Two weeks ago (April 25, specifically) we went to a Tori Amos concert in LA. It was a vastly different experience from the others we’ve been to. You see, she started out as basically her and a piano, and each album has added more and more layers of instruments. It always reminds me of a scene in Death: The Time of Your Life (Neil Gaiman has been friends with Tori since she was working on Little Earthquakes) in which Foxglove’s manager(?) is explaining that as she gets more popular, they have to book bigger and bigger venues, and beyond a certain size just a girl and her guitar isn’t going to cut it: she needs to hire a band.

Well, the “Original Sinsuality” tour provided some clues going in: It was a short tour, the venues—in this case UCLA’s Royce Hall—were comparatively small (which is why the show sold out in 10 minutes), and it was named after a “quiet Tori” song. She dispensed with the band entirely. It was just Tori Amos, a grand piano, two kinds of organs and another keyboard I couldn’t quite identify. We heard songs you never hear in concert (“Yes Anastasia,” “Doughnut Song”) or wouldn’t expect to (“Toast”), even when she takes a break from the band and does a piano set.

So, onto a review:

The Good:

  • Lots of just Tori and a piano.
  • Unexpected songs, including two neither of us recognized.
  • Good acoustics. Any distortions were due to Tori’s own linguistic quirks, not the sound system.
  • Unusual covers of “Living on a Prayer” and “All Through the Night.”

The Bad:

  • Five minutes into ticket sales, “best available” turned out to be way off on the side of the U-shaped balcony, at an angle where we had to look around a pillar of speakers to see her most of the time.
  • Not a big fan of the Hammond organ.
  • Stuck next to some massive person who kept texting people on her(?) cell phone.
  • Nothing at all from Choirgirl Hotel through Scarlet’s Walk—I was kind of hoping to hear “1,000 Oceans” once the tone was clear.

I still haven’t warmed up to The Beekeeper as much as I have to Scarlet’s Walk, which is now my favorite Tori album (followed by her debut, Little Earthquakes). But it’s an album worth listening to, and I would have hated to have missed that concert.

(This has been sitting in my drafts since the day after the concert. Time to publish it while it’s still somewhat topical.)

4 thoughts on “Tori Concert: Back to Basics

  1. […] The concert was great, and very different from the last concert we saw at Royce Hall just by virtue of having a full band behind her (Tori Amos performed solo last time we were there). It was also very different from the last time we saw Aimee Mann, at the House of Blues last summer. For one thing, she was focusing on songs from her new album, The Forgotten Arm. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.