Tori Amos bands with friends and bonds with fans
By JANE STEVENSON
Eccentric singer-songwriter-pianist extraordinaire
Tori Amos rocked -- that's right, rocked -- the
Phoenix Concert Theatre on Tuesday night.
Before more than 1,000 of her devoted following
-- some of whom had been waiting since 9:30 in
the morning outside the venue to get in -- Amos put
on a riveting, hour-and-45-minute show with
material from her beat-heavy new album, From The
Helping Amos rock out in a big way were a tight
trio of musicians, including longtime collaborator
Steve Caton on guitar, and drummer Matt
Chamberlain and bassist Jon Evans, who provided
a deep groove for Amos, flanked by a piano and
keyboards, which she sometimes played
The vocally and musically gifted Amos, recently
named by SPIN as among the "top 40 most vital
artists in music," was last in town at Massey Hall in
1996, but then it was just her and Caton.
With Choirgirl, which hits record stores on
Tuesday, Amos said she wanted to branch out
from "the girl and the piano thing" by recording and
performing -- for the first time -- with a band.
The change suits her, and the audience -- who
stood there transfixed, often with arms
outstretched, when they weren't shouting things like
"You're my goddess, Tori!" -- apparently agreed.
Amos, who has been through major personal
change in the last few years (getting married and
pregnant and then suffering a miscarriage) also
seemed thrilled with the result. What else could
explain her literally skipping off the stage at the end
of her set?
When Amos wasn't winking at Caton or beaming at
Chamberlain or Evans, she was making eye contact
with her fans and engaging them in dialogue.
"Love you back," she said at one point to the
crowd and blew them a kiss.
Amos -- who made her entrance by walking up to
the front of the stage to accept various bouquets of
flowers -- opened the show with two new songs,
notably the impressive Black-Dove (January) and
Iieee, before trotting out older material like Horses
and Doughnut Song. But it was the new work that
really stood out.
Spark, Northern Lad, and Cruel packed a major
emotional punch even if there was a slight loss of
momentum during slower numbers like Jackie's
Amos is currently on a rare club tour, previewing
material from Choirgirl in 12 North American cities
before embarking on a larger-venue road trip this
summer, which will likely bring her back to the
Molson Amphitheatre in July.
The complete set list for Tori Amos's show at
the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, April
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