Amos underwhelms Massey faithful
By STEPHEN KNIGHT -- JAM! Showbiz
It's a good thing Myra Ellen Amos
got booted out of Baltimore's
prestigious Peabody Conservatory
If not, the world might never have
got to know Tori Amos, the eclectic
red-haired waif who belts out a
hybrid of pop and piano that is
enjoying happy results with both
critics and cash registers.
Amos, 32, was in Toronto Monday
night for the first of three shows in two nights at Massey Hall,
and her performance, while riveting, was less than inspiring.
The North Carolina native - who now resides in England -
began the show with Beauty Queen/Horses from her latest
CD, Boys for Pele, a reference to the Hawaiian god of creation
and destruction who is honored by having young boys thrown
Amos, clad in black tight-fitting tuxedo slacks, teal pumps and a
cutoff vest, was every bit the sultry piano diva. Her body
language, mostly writhing on or around her piano stool, was
exciting for the crowd, especially during Blood Roses, but she
wasn't giving away much conversationally.
In a glorious three-tiered, 102-year-old venue made for intimacy
between artist and audience, the best between-song banter
Amos could muster was, "Girls, if you have a broken heart, go
shopping. It really does help."
For most of the 19-song set, Amos was alone on the stage,
nestled between her black grand piano and a harpsichord.
The highlight of Amos' set - and the evening - came during
Caught a Lite Sneeze. After some hypnotic harpsichord,
Amos then used her piano as a drum, beating on it while wailing
the final words. "Boys on my right side/Boys in the middle and
you're not here/boys in their dresses/ and you're not here/I need
a big loan from the girl zone." Amos' voice was at its angelic,
raspy best, fusing innocence and eroticism in a disturbing, but
For her megahit Cornflake Girl, Amos was joined by guitarist
Steve Caton. A rapt crowd of about 2,700 went wild at its
Amos' did not perform her first big single, 1991's Crucify, off
her debut CD, Little Earthquakes, which clearly disappointed a
few Toriphiles who were yelling from the rafters for it.
She made up for the omission by playing a raucous version of
Talula, one of the funkier tunes in Amos' often melancholy
three-CD repertoire. The piped-in drums were a minor irritant
for such a rhythmic song.
Amos' crew of mostly twentysomething fans gave her two
encores, the first of which contained a cover of Somewhere
Over the Rainbow that sounded remarkably like Kate Bush.
The Bush comparisons are inevitable, but there is an edge, an
unpredictability, to Amos that is not apparent in Bush. Tori
Amos is what Kate Bush would become if the latter were under
a full moon.
Amos' second encore consisted of Tear In Your Hand, Silent
All These Years and the plaintive, but catchy Hey, Jupiter.
Amos will probably get it right the second time around.
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