We drove up to UCLA last night for an Aimee Mann concert, and somehow, despite all the rain on the way up and back, we managed to not need our umbrellas at all.

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.

It was also much more interactive than either of the other two concerts. What stuck in my mind was the request section. She had everything set up so that people would write the request on a piece of paper and leave it on the stage, but when she got to the break, people were shouting out titles. One guy came prepared with what looked like a balsa glider and wrote his request on that, adding that it was his birthday. I don’t remember his request, but she improvised “Happy birthday to the paper airplane man.” I’ve seen singers who get talkative, and singers who improv silly songs, but it really felt like the house was much smaller than 1800 people. (Of course, you could still make a drinking game out of the number of times she says “Thank you so much” after a song.) Continue reading

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: Continue reading