Tori Amos - 10/23/01 @ the Arie Crown Theatre

Tori Amos may have been silent all these years (last time she was in town was the summer of 1999) but she came back with power and an attitude that made it worth the wait.

Playing at Arie Crown Theatre brought some mixed reviews even before the show started. Several weren’t very pleased that she’d play such a “large” venue…which may have seated about 10,000 (all sold out too). Others, like myself, loved the place! Maybe it was my seats, 17th row, that made it great, or maybe it was the speakers being turned way up…either way Tori’s emotions bled through the room with such clarity it was almost like hearing some of her old songs like they were new.

Even opener Rufus Wainwright came out loud, yet not clear. His whinny singing voice was at its peak (to some not in a good way), yet I personally like it. His latest album, Poses, will most likely be on my list of “Best of 2001”. He hit on most of his tracks from Poses, including the title track in which he mentioned before 9/11 that he dedicated it to NY, but since then he can’t, since it deals with where people’s heads are. He also played the track he does on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.

He kept a good sense of humor throughout the set, that may have been because he was “full of beer.” I hope that he keeps the theme that has been going on these past tours with other people I’ve seen, and after being an opener, tours on his own.

Tori’s set opened with out Tori…only a picture of “the mother” from Eminem’s “97’ Bonnie & Clyde”. The music was dubbed from the album while she supplied the vocals from back stage while the audience got a light show.

The curtain dropped and Tori ran on stage and played a 2-hour heavy set of mostly old material. She ranged form her oldest material to her latest album, “Strange Little Girls” by playing “Rattlesnake,” and “Real Men”…all covers of course done originally by male artists.

She hit some B-Sides and such as “Bachlorette” from a “Spark” single. Then she stayed more in the Boys for Pele, Little Earthquakes and a bit of Under the Pink mode the rest of the light. Such tunes were “Hey Jupiter,” (pele) “Silent All These Years,” (earthquakes) “Little Earthquakes,” (earthquakes), “Belles for Her,” (pink) “Doughnut Song,” (pele) “Pretty Good Year,” (skin) “Tear in Your Hand,” (earthquakes) and she closed the night, after 2 encores with PinksBaker Baker.”

She played nothing from Choirgirl Hotel nor To Venus and Back, which was expected since this show was a “rare” solo performance and those albums are very band heavy.

She had the place practically in tears when she stepped away from her pianos’ (she used 3) and went A Capella for Little EarthquakesMe and a Gun,” which was her first single for that album in 1992 and deals with her dealings with her rape. Throughout the entire night she put the audience in total silence...her voice was so powerful that you couldn't help but (as someone put it) "feel her pain". Yet at times you couldn't help but notice the child her in still, the innocence and youth.

There wasn’t much banter from Tori. She is famous for her in-between song chats with the audience. Telling tales of her songs or about people she met. She stopped once in the beginning to talk about the “dilemma” of what to dress as for Halloween. She mentioned how her daughter will be Tinker Bell. She then asked the audience what they thought she should go as and one women yelled “Devil in a Blue Dress” which made Tori smile and go into her own very sexual version of the song.

This was definitely a show that needed to be done. Each album Tori seems to gain new fans because her albums are so different. She was starting to loose her “real fans” after Choirgirl because she went away from being solo. Same as when Ani DiFranco went the same route…and both have a very strong cult (and "gay") following. Yet this tour showed that she may be changing album by album but she isn’t forgetting where she began. All alone, behind a piano, a mic and stirring up some little earthquakes.

--Todd - Chicago-

Tori Amos - 10/23/01 @ the Arie Crown Theatre

Tori Amos. What can I say about her performance at the Arie Crown Theater? Shocking, yet relaxing. It was mellow and energetic at the same time, intense but soothing. There were some ups and downs during the show but overall it was one to see. Before going any further with this review, let me just say that I am not too familiar with her. I heard the new album “Strange Little Girls,” and liked it a lot so I figured what the hell, I’ll go to the show.

Well I felt completely out of my environment. First of all, the venue is not the type of venue that I am used to. I’m used to being around about bunch of drunks bouncing off of each other getting rowdy. But then again, Tori Amos is not like most performers. Hello! You are supposed to stand up and show some appreciation for the performer. She is classy and sophisticated. Her vocal abilities are amazing so shutting up and sitting down to watch is the only way show your appreciation.

Tori fans. Geez. Talk about ultimate fans. These people worshipped her. There was no out of line fans (other than thong boy in trench coat – need I say more). Tori and her fans have some type of spiritual connection that I do not completely understand but just learned to let them be. Tori really didn’t interact with her fans though. It was only when she mentioned she didn’t know what to be for Halloween that she asked the audience for suggestion. One person mentioned a blue devil and Tori went into an impromptu version of “Devil in a Blue Suit,” which I thought was out of the ordinary. I didn’t know any of the songs except for a few. Not to say that I didn’t like the songs that she performed but lets just say the show started off tiresome.

She opened the show with probably the most intense song on her new album. “’97 Bonnie & Clyde,” a remake of one of many controversial songs by Eminem. A banner unfolded of her and the song began. First verse complete, no Tori. Chorus finished, no Tori. Second verse complete, still no Tori. It was until the freaking song was over that she came out. What is up with that? The mood was completely ruined. It is always breath taking when an artist first comes out on stage after waiting in line to get in and after waiting for the opening act (which by this way this one was terrible) to finally see that artist that you really enjoy come out with a bang. Well Tori’s “bang” was non-existent.

Quite frankly the bang did not occur until the middle of the show. I got tired of the ongoing piano vocal performance. Although she did play a keyboard and a piano at the same time while singing, that just didn’t seem amazing enough to me. What was really amazing to me was when she put all the instruments away and sang “Me and a Gun.” The song dealt with her experience with being raped. I was completely blown away and so was the audience. She poured her heart out to us. All her emotional pain seeped into our souls as we felt what she felt. It was during this song that she controlled us. She gave us our feelings. She made sure we knew what she had gone through. From this point on she controlled the entire venue. Her performance of the song was definitely one that I will never forget.

Not to take away from Tori, but another thing I will never forget is how she controlled some fans. Yes we felt what she felt, but some fans were feeling on something a little more. Once again perhaps its because I didn’t know a lot of the songs what I did know was the fact that some people were way too in to some of the songs. These cheers were not ordinary cheers. These cheers were organic. People were having these outbursts that were humorous at first but became annoying real quick. I didn't have that type of connection with Tori but if her music moves you like that, then I definitely suggest you see her show.

Overall I must say that I didn’t have high aspirations for to see her but I am glad that I did. Tori is a great performer and I respect her more now than I did in the past. She has a lot of vocal ability and no one can play a keyboard and a piano at the same time like she can. She is a beautiful person, both mentally and physically (I was able to see her up close after the show). She is genuinely a good person and it shows when she is on stage. Tori is not as strange as I thought she was going to be.

--L. Barrios - Chicago -

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