By JOHN SAKAMOTO
Executive Producer, Jam! Showbiz
TORONTO -- The irony was not lost on anyone,
least of all Tori Amos herself.
Touring with a full band for the first time, Amos
delivered what was quite possibly both the loudest
and most intimate performance any music fan is
likely to witness this year.
More accurately, Amos and her AUDIENCE
delivered on the intimate part.
The crowd of undyingly loyal devotees that packed
the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Tuesday night
proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is
no performer anywhere who commands as
responsive a fan base as Amos does.
This in spite of the fact that almost half of her
16-song, 100-minute set -- the sole Canadian stop
on a two-week club tour leading up to next week's
release of her fourth solo album, "from the choirgirl
hotel" -- consisted of material that virtually no one
in the audience has heard yet.
Six of the 16 songs were drawn from that album,
while a seventh -- a poignant new track called
"Cooling" -- has been released only in Europe as a
B-side to her current single, "Spark". It is entirely
typical of Amos's audience that she performed the
song because someone in the crowd
Though there has been some concern among
hardcore fans that the ineffable bond between
Amos and her fans would be damaged by the
"intrusion" of a full band, that scenario never
In fact, the evening's highlights included jagged,
in-your-face overhauls of favorites like "Horses",
"The Waitress", and "God", the latter of which
featured a sly quote from a most unlikely source:
The Gap Band's 1982 hit, "You Dropped A Bomb
Of the new material, both "Northern Lad" and the
stunning "Jackie's Strength" -- the latter inspired in
part by Jackie Kennedy and introduced as being
"about a girl getting lost on her wedding day" --
packed even more of an emotional wallop than the
Not that every number was pounded into
submission. The three-piece band features a sterling
rhythm section of ex-Pearl Jam drummer Matt
Chamberlain and San Francisco jazz bassist Jon
Evans, plus guitarist Steve Caton, who has been
with Amos since the days of her ill-fated '80s hair
band, Y Kant Tori Read.
That combination was nimble enough to take the
"Boys For Pele" track "Doughnut Song" and make
it sound far more witty than it does on record.
Still, the high point for many of the faithful was
undoubtedly the all-too-brief, two-song solo set
Amos dropped into the middle of the show.
Playfully shooing the band off stage, she reeled off
absolutely spellbinding renditions of "Mother" and
Once the band returned for the last half-dozen
numbers, you could almost sense the ache of
knowing that, no matter how powerful Amos's
music sounds on stage in 1998, something
intangible had disappeared forever.
The complete set list for Tori Amos's show at
the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, April