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Tori Amos


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

she's a goddess. what else is there to say? (art@cs.sfu.ca)

Beautiful and fierce evocative/eclectic rock. (Neile)

Status:

Most recent release, Gold Dust (re-recording compilation, 2012)

See also:

There are hundreds of Tori webpages and sites with Tori info. You might start at one of these and then give your browser some exercise:

toriamos.com

Mike Why's A Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe

The Ectophiles' Guide entry on Y Kant Tori Read

Comparisons:

Kate Bush crossed with Sylvia Plath ;). Though like Kate Bush she draws her musical inspiration from all over, she is defiantly original. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Mostly own material, some covers as b-sides on singles and an album of covers, Strange Little Girls

General comments:

Highly emotional. (art@cs.sfu.ca)

Tori's work is getting steadily more complex and mature with each album. Tori is the first artist I have felt compelled to collect singles from. I can't recommend her work highly enough: powerful, gutsy, delicate, serious, funny...she's got it all. And she's an excellent musician—her piano work is in partnership with her voice, rather than just accompaniment. (Neile)

I think that her albums have been getting progressively less mainstream. While I found Under The Pink to be a grabber, it was much farther out than Little Earthquakes. And Boys For Pele was still further out toward mannerisms. (Sometimes there's a good reason for record producers...). Curiously, though, Tori's lyrics are condemned as self-indulgent not because they are mundane but because they are often so random-seeming that many people can't find any sense of connection with them. I find that while I love poetry that is so far out that it makes Tori's words seem like the daily news, when it comes to song lyrics I prefer songs with a touch more coherence. Since Little Earthquake, at least, Tori has given us lyrics that you have to wander around in for a while before you spot what's happening or build a meaning for yourself. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

I think that Under The Pink wasn't quite as good as Little Earthquakes, but I don't think that it had anything to do with Tori trying to be more mainstream or more commercial as Under The Pink hardly fit either of those criteria, and Boys For Pele was probably the least mainstream sounding of her three albums. I'd actually use Tori as an example of someone who became popular without changing her music to make it more commercial. (mcurry@io.com)

It has become clear that there are two Tori camps. One where Boys For Pele is the acclaimed release, and the other which seems to fall into the Little Earthquakes first, Under The Pink/from the choirgirl hotel next, and Boys For Pele far behind, seemingly never to catch up. I've loved Tori since the moment I heard Little Earthquakes when it came out. Under The Pink took a little while to grow on me, but it has a very definite place for a very specific mood now. From the choirgirl hotel took about three spins for me to click with it, but then it went !!!CLICK!!! and didn't leave my changer. Someone recently described Boys For Pele as masturbatory, and I have to say that when I read it, I thought "Yeah...that sums it up for me." (JavaHo@aol.com)

I'm sad to say, I'm losing her slowly. To me the success and the importance of Little Earthquakes and the singles from that time lies not in anything tangible, but in how I felt this incredible connection with what she was doing. I never had the great religious dilemma, and my high-school days were not as traumatic as hers seemed to be, but listening to her songs I thought I could FEEL what she was feeling. And there were some other songs that would make me jump up, saying "yes, how did you know?!?".... If the ultimate point of art is expression then these songs were successful like few others. But with every new record that is happening less and less often. Now I can admire the energy of Boys for Pele as someone noted, or her courage for putting out less and less commercial records, but rarely do I get that feeling that I understand completely what she's on about. It's not a criticism; she's moving on, and perhaps I am as well. But yes, I miss these early days. Someone asked about reactions to her new incarnation as Tori with a band. Well, as you can probably guess I'd much prefer her to remain just Tori with a piano. But I understand that she needs to explore new territories. I just don't know if I'll be able and willing to follow her there. (afries@zip.com.au)

If anything, her music has been getting *less* mainstream, not more. It's an odd phenomenon that more and more people have been latching onto it.
     Tori is one of the greatest pianists ever, in my book (and I played piano so I think I can at least say that :). When she plays, she becomes part of the instrument, and the music just flows from her—it's almost palpable. It's not just the teechnical prowess she displays (and she does that in spades), but the feeling and emotion she puts through in her playing that just plain blows me away.
     But in my opinion the definitive cover of the song "Famous Blue Raincoat" was done by Tori. It's chilling. (She also did the definitive cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You", in my mind. Something about Tori and covers.) (meth@smoe.org)

I have to say first that I love Tori. I have repeatedly read the words to everything she has done. The first two cds were brilliant and emotional and I understood all she was trying to convey. "Precious Things" is my favorite song by her and that story is the one I closely relate to her. In my opinion self-indulgence describes her last two cds. To me that occurs when the artist is the only one who knows what she is talking about. That occurred mostly on Boys for Pele. It's not 100% but it's a lot. It annoys me but with tori I've put up with it because I love her personality, musicianship, aura...whatever. (FAMarcus@aol.com)

I understand where neile is coming from when she says Tori is getting more and more mature and complex in her work. I agree to a certain point. Little Earthquakes does sound rather simplistic in retrospect, on the other hand i think it is rather succinct in its message, and doesn't really need the embellishments that Boys For Pele and the others strive for. it comes straight from the gut and doesn't want or need for anything else. There is a big difference between complexity and vagueness. One (often) strives to create complexity and multiple reads in a mature art work, not vagueness and wishy washy muddledness. Boys For Pele was able to strike this pretty close but (i felt) it didn't. the entire second part of the album could have been one long song. one really bad long song. one really bad, muddled, masturbatory, vague song. from the choirgirl hotel i think is a good step for Tori and I look forward to her next album, in the hopes that it will take it to a next step. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

There are definitely a few female artists that play piano and/or other keyboards that are known for their instrumental prowess as well. Tori immediately comes to mind. She is an amazing piano and keyboard (harpsichord, mellotron) player. Her playing is so rhythmic and melodic. She can really solo too. (wpm@value.net)

Sometimes I find she bugs me, sometimes she's just impressive. I'm more of a casual Tori consumer, not a truly devoted fan. Of the three albums I have, I like Under The Pink best, closely followed by from the choirgirl hotel. Boys For Pele, i tried but it just didn't take a hold. (charlie@ilsebill.biologie.uni-freiburg.de)

Lord...since I'm so Tori-psycho right now, y'all, here's a REAL blast from the past...the live clips from Tori's video "Little Earthquakes" (the live performances and Little Earthquakes videos)...wow, now I'm thinking back to all of that time at the beginning of Tori's career...that was such a magical time, that first album really just stuck Tori into such a unique category, and to see the roads she's paved for herself as an artist and for all of these other less-amazing girls as artists...wow...I don't know, there are a whole hell of a lot of y'all who keep saying from the choirgirl hotel was such a disappointment in my opinion" or whatever, but I guess I'm strange, I absolutely loved the album from the first moment, and the old albums these days are very strange for me to listen to, Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink and even Boys For Pele sometimes, I listen to them and there are SO many rich memories associated with them, from what I was doing at certain times listening to certain songs, to the digging into each song, into what the hell she was talking about, and how attached to them and to her I got, each album really opened me up to SO much, they're so full of intellect as well as visceral emotion, and Tori always has been the one to face full-throttle against ideas, rather than just kind of halfway touching upon them...there are SO few people pressing themselves so completely against topics like Tori is...there's Veda Hille (who is in every good way the Canadian Tori—or perhaps Tori is the American Veda...I think that's probably a much better way of putting it), there's Catherine Irwin (Freakwater, there's David Eugene Edwards (Sixteen Horsepower), in his own fucked-up way...there's Diamanda Galas, uniquely...PJ Harvey, almost, but she's more in some other ways...but at the very base of it all, it always comes right back to Tori, and I'm half terrified to see where she'll go next. (John.Drummond)

I have always relished her covers. Some have been breathtaking. (neal)

Comments about live performance:

The Plugged Tour:The Tori concert that I saw at the MCI Center was quite wonderful. Although it didn't have the intimacy of the solo gigs, the addition of the stage lighting and drums added a sense of spectacle that worked very well. (I can't say how the guitar and bass would have helped, since I couldn't hear them until the encore, during which Steve Caton did a pretty good Kevin Bartlett imitation :-]) Some songs that didn't work for me at all on the CDs came to life, and the rest were quite solid, though I wished she'd done some that she didn't.
     The one person I can think of who manages to be simultaneously huge and personal is Tori. I think this may be due to her intimate approach onstage: even when playing stadiums, there's still almost a feeling of sitting in a small room with her and her piano. It may also be due to her lyrics, which, as they grow ever more oblique, almost force each listener to construct her own meanings from them. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

I must say it was quite a different experience than seeing her on previous tours. But there is something to be said for hearing "Precious Things" and "Cornflake Girl" with a full band, not the least of which being that it cuts down on the length of that "GIRRRRLLL" Tori had taken to doing during the Dew Drop Inn tour. Many of Tori's songs just work better with the full band and it was nice to hear them that way at least once.
     I was really pleased with the concert last night. She did everything I hoped she would do with a band and even added some wonderful surprises like "Siren," which is one of my favorites and something I was not expecting at all, and solo versions of "China" and "Cooling." Now, my dream concert would have been twice as long and been dedicated half to songs that need the full band and half to songs that work best with just Tori and the piano. But I guess that's asking a little too much. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

What can I say—the rock superstar thing suits Tori. She opened with "Precious Things", which anyone who knows me knows I've been waiting for 6+ years to see done right live with a band, and it blew the lid off all of my high expectations. From there she moved right into "Spark". With that kind of a kickass beginning there was bound to be a lull later, but that was all relative. "Cruel" was awesome, "Black Dove" transcendent; and when she did "Marianne" during the solo piano interlude in the middle I was in heaven. "Raspberry Swirl", one of the encores had me cracking up throughout. That song can only be performed totally over the top, which it was and then some. Tori's surrounded herself with some good musicians too, though I think Caton could stand to tone down his wanking a bit on some songs. (c. 1998)
     Well, it looks like woj and I survived our crazy week, seeing Tori Amos three times in three nights at the Beacon Theatre in NYC.
     The shows ranged from merely wonderful to transcendent. The first night was relatively lackluster, partly because we were quite far up in the upper balcony and the sound was actually rather faint; the second night was one "wow!" after another as the set went on; and last night we had our best seats (10th row orchestra), it was another "wow" setlist, and she played "Honey" and "Flying Dutchman", which made the whole thing even more worthwhile than it already was.
     "'97 Bonnie And Clyde" starts off every show, with a very cool light show while Tori performs the song from backstage. It's very intense, and at the song's last note the backdrop through which the lights shine falls to reveal the stage setup. I think it'd be even more effective if Tori were sitting at the piano at the time, but then she wouldn't get to make a grand entrance.
     She has the Bösendorfer, an electric keyboard and a new toy, a Wurlitzer which once belonged to Country Joe And The Fish. She played "Crucify", "Talula" and "Playboy Mommy" on it, and all three were very, very cool, almost unrecognizable versions.
     The Y Kant Tori Read songs were a complete shock both times. She played both on the electric keyboard, and they were both gorgeous.
     I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the good behavior of the audience all three nights. I don't know if recent events have tempered New Yorkers or what, but I didn't want to behead anyone sitting around me any night. You could hear a pin drop during "Me And A Gun" every time, too. If this is indicative of audiences elsewhere, I'd advise those who have stayed away for the past few tours to consider coming back into the fold. Every night it was like 1994 again, and that was a very good thing.
     On this tour Tori has been playing almost exclusively material from her first 3 albums, sets have been *very* heavy on the Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink-era b-sides, with only 1 or 2 songs from the new one per night, and the shows have been the most amazing I've ever seen. Apparently the Philly show was particularly transcendent. (10/01)
     Tori played at the Oakdale in Connecticut last night, and in conjunction with that WTIC, a local top-40 radio station inexplicably did a thing where contest winners got to go to a recording studio in Hartford and see Tori play a few songs, then meet her afterwards. A local friend of woj's managed to get passes, then her husband lamed out on her so she offered the extra pass to woj yesterday morning. Since woj is a wonderful human being (who is about to see a ton of shows I'm not going to), he gave it to me instead. :)
     Tori greeted everyone by saying she had tried to take Tash for a walk in the park that morning, but it was pouring rain so Tash decided she wanted to watch DVD's instead. This led to a noodled improv about how her life is no longer her own, and it's really crazy, which then became "Crazy". Then she did "Pancake", "A Sorta Fairytale", and "Strange", all solo on the studio's cute Steinway baby grand. Lovely renditions of each. I'd forgotten how disconcerting it could be to have her stare at you when she's singing!! There was a big guy sitting in front of me, and she seemed to zero in on him. (At least she wasn't singing "Me And A Gun" and doing that, like she was wont to do back in the day.)
     The evening show: Some of the best shows I've ever seen her do have been at the Oakdale, and last night was no exception. The encores especially blew everyone away...not only did she do "Honey" (with John bowing an upright bass, yum), but she pulled out Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird", which has long been a Holy Grail of sorts amongst the collector set. Oh yeah, and "In The Springtime Of His Voodoo", and "Juarez", and "Past The Mission" to close everything out. Sometimes I think she's out to kill everyone who goes to her shows in Connecticut.
     woj and I also saw her at the Riverside Church in NYC on Wednesday. The delicious irony of seeing her perform on an altar made up for the horrible sound—the place is a cavernous cathedral, so there really wasn't much they could do. There were some *scary* harmonics going on. I do have to give Mark Hawley props for managing to make the Boesendorfer sound like an electric piano, though. That one was definitely all him. :P (Fortunately, the piano sounded much better last night!)
     It was a pretty standard set list, from what I've been gathering—but I have to say, if I had to sit through "Crucify" again at least it was in the perfect setting. ;) I like how the songs from the new album translate to the live setting. It was also great to hear "Sugar" with the band again—that one always kicks some major ass.
     The lighting was great, too. The church has a really ornate High Gothic backdrop to the altar, and the lighting guy used it to great effect, focusing some of the shapes on the tops of the arches and focusing the light in such a way that it made the backdrop come alive. I was really impressed with how well he incorporated that into the lighting. It turned out to be a much different light show than what we saw at the Oakdale, which was also pretty cool. In the church, she wasn't able to have her backdrop set (mountains with a road map going across them) or have her "Roadside Cafe" sign during her solo interlude in the middle of the show. (11/02)
     I don't know what it is about the Oakdale, but Tori always puts on what turns out to be one of the best shows of her entire tour there. It was a great show anyway, but then she played "Honey" and "Songbird" one of her Holy Grails, and that was enough to vault it onto my best concerts of the year list. (12/02, meth@smoe.org

Even stranger was that her show was BIG. Really BIG. In fact, it might have been better to watch from farther away. Since it's not a particularly intimate show, you don't really gain much by being close. Just more overcome by the craziness of the lighting and less able to take in the whole effect at once.
     I was amazed at how all of the old songs had been completely reworked, often to the point of near unrecognizability. She often gave them pretty intriguing readings, almost bluesy in her playing with the phrases, and even more over-the-top than ever with her odd breathy tricks and growls. She opened with "Precious Things", and it was very cool to hear her belt out the long giiirrrrlllll, rather than growl it. Kind of funny, since her voice is so gruff now that the growl would have been more natural.
     Like people said, her voice is seriously raw. It's amazing how this was unnoticeable for much of the show, but in the few times she talked to the crowd, she sounded terrible. Also, she really couldn't sing softly. The 2-song Tori & a piano section sounded more like Tina Turner than Tori Amos. It was rather odd anyway, beginning with a song I didn't know (something like "he is like a mermaid"), and ending with a generally ineffective cover of Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat (though it had some strong moments too).
     "Raspberry Swirl", was amazingly fun as the start of the second encore. The Choirgirl songs were given treatments reasonably close to those on the album, but almost everything else was turned on its head. What I missed the most was the phrasing of most of the songs. Tori has such a unique way of playing out her lines. And while the presentation was still unique, I found it less compelling. It was flamboyant, but kind of unaffecting. I think part of it was that the novelty of the raucous band versions got a bit old, and the direct emotional impact of most of the songs just didn't seem to be present. Still glad I got a chance to see this phase of her career though. (neal)

I didn't really know what to expect from her. I feared that playing in front of more than 100,000 people would affect her music and her behaviour and the sound problems wouldn't help too. On this I was right: she spent the first song doing the soundcheck, I only realised at the end that she was playing "Spark", I didn't recognise it before! (and I was 10 meters from the stage, right in the middle so in the best position possible acoustic-wise). After that the sound was all right, but still far from good, and I could at least enjoy the music and the show. And what a show it was! To say she is intense would be an understatement, she is much more than that, she seems to be in a trance when she is playing. She was with three musicians: a drummer, a bass player and a guitarist (who had 9 different electric guitars and changed for every song). Tori herself had a piano an a keyboard. I was really curious to see how she could adapt songs like "Raspberry Swirl". It is really different, I think she doesn't use enough electronic gizmos to really exploit this song to the fullest but I am not in charge. :-) She played "Cornflake Girl" and "Crucify" in the usual way, no surprise here. If I had a complaint to make that would be that: she should really change the songs, especially the old ones, to add something new to them. It was a bit too predictable in my opinion, if you had heard her versions of material from the previous tour. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

I too saw Tori in the smaller more intimate settings. Those memories are not soon forgotten. The show she did then was perfect for those halls. The show Tori brought with her this time was not aimed at those venues. No way...no how. This show was meant for a big hall. The music little resembles anything that you've heard on CD. I think this show proves how brilliant she is. I don't think a lot of singers could have turned her music inside out like this and pulled it off. Maybe I'm alone in this but my mouth was wide open the whole show. And I don't remember the last time I wanted more as I did for this show. I refer to the two songs she did solo in the middle as the eye of the hurricane. I remember settling down as she got back to the familiar voice and solo piano that I was accustomed to. When the band came back on again it was an instant visual and aural rush for me. I could see if she tried to do her personal show in these large venues as being a disappointment. That's an entire different memory altogether. Thanks for both of them Tori.
     If you've ever gone to a Tori show you are going to have to forget what you know and are used to. The musical arrangements have been changed drastically to incorporate the back up band. This show owes more to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd influences than anything else. I'm still in awe of it. Tori and the band totally rocked the hall. Very intense. And if you are lucky enough to see her on this tour pay close attention to what she does to "Cruel" and "Raspberry Swirl" and "Waitress". I'm still vibrating. The former were much more intense than the album and the latter you won't even recognize until you hear the words.
     I'm very curious how her hard core fans will react (of which I am one). I think I would compare this to what Bob Dylan did when he went rock and roll way back when. She does an acoustical set in the middle by herself and the contrast is so stark. It reminds you that her voice is still the instrument it always was. Then she shifts gears into the present again. Simply put...she kicked my ass. I want to go back for more. I've never wanted to see a live show on a CD as much as I want this one to be. Because of the differences in every song this one is a cinch to make that transition. I think she has proven her genius by changing gears like this and doing it so well. (FAMarcus@aol.com)

In the concert, her spoken voice was raspy and I thought she might need to clear her throat. What was amazing is the fact that her singing was impeccably pure and unrestrained. The woman can wail. Unfortunately, the band sound drowned out her voice and lyrics (?). (What lyrics? Is she singing in English?) I do like from the choirgirl hotel, but the recording is more instrumentally balanced than what I heard in the open air amphitheatre Saturday night. Tori and piano showcases her talents much better, in my opinion. "The Waitress" was the best with band. A live album of Tori concert excerpts would be a sure seller. She is one who does not sound the same live as her recordings. (jwaite@ucsd.edu)

Saw Tori at the MCI Center here in DC. Uggh. If it wasn't free for me I wouldn't have gone. Something tragic about seeing Tori as a small speck on a stage compared to the Park West where I saw her last and was practically sitting under her. I completely did not dig the band, and the sound was terrible from where I was sitting. But Tori still has that magic when she's doing her solo stuff. (jetgrrl@magenta.com)

I never saw Tori during the "girl and her piano" tours, so I have no way of comparing, BUT I cannot imagine that the impact of some of these songs could have been remotely as close. I realize, of course, that there was an entirely different feel of intimacy to those shows, but I liked the intensity that was present last night. Different strokes, I guess.
     Bottom line—if you get a chance to see her this time around...DO! It may not be the same, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth experiencing. (JavaHo@aol.com)

i understand the point of view of those who are not thrilled by her current live show. in fact, i'm surprised that so few long-time fans are disappointed—i was expecting more would not enjoy the current turn of events. but i'm not one of them. i loved (and love) the quiet, intimate shows of yore, but i've been waiting for her to break out with the band since the second album. not to detract from the solo piano performances, but three tours of that, well, left room for changes.
     on the other hand, during the two-song interludes when she plays accompanied only by the piano, it's seems pretty clear that she'll never leave that part of her music behind. whether this current band thing is something she needs to work out of her system or a sign of things to comes, i'm sure she'll return to the solo piano stuff in the future—it's too much of her essence and her style not to.
     the structure of each show is the same (six band songs, two solo songs, four or five band songs, two encores) and there are a few "core" songs ("precious things", "raspberry swirl", "cruel", "spark"), but the rest of the set list is pretty fluid from night to night. she sometimes sticks to the written set list, but strays fairly often. in typical tori fashion, some songs just "show up" and want to be played.
     another thing that i've been impressed by, in addition to the spontaneity of the set list, is that there is a fair amount of jamming during the songs. more often than not, she extends each song, twiddling around on the piano as the band plays the basic chords and beat. as the tour progressed, the band has also gotten in on the twiddling as well, which has been really cool to hear. when she's ready to finish a song, she signals the band with a wave and then they tie up the loose ends. nothing overly improvisational, but still a fun thing to hear and see. (woj@smoe.org)

I've seen all but one year of Tori's tours, and have a mixed reaction to the from the choirgirl hotel one. I love the band. What they do to such songs as "Cornflake Girl", and "Precious Things" is amazing. The lighting director is a master. My big problem is Tori shortened her show dramatically. The show ran just over an hour and a half. Songs like "Me and A Gun", and "Happy Phantom" weren't played. In all the times I've seen Tori I've never seen her not play "Me and a Gun". She did have ample opportunity. The band left mid-set for 3 songs. Tori still has her stage chatter, but it sounded more rehearsed than times before. Even with the band, and 10,000 of my closest friends, she was able to make the show feel intimate.
     Overall I like the band sound as much as Tori solo. I could easily accept another album done in that format. As for the tour, she has to do more on stage in the future. (alex.teitz@state.co.us)

Some have even said the band tour was a "must see." I tend to disagree. While I admire Tori greatly, and enjoy from the choirgirl hotel immensely, I thought seeing her play to a venue of 10,000 was disappointing. I doubt I'll ever see her live again if she continues to play such large venues here in America. I saw her from the beginning days of Little Earthquakes, like the early shows at The Bottom Line in NYC. When she graduated to 2,000 type venues, it was still intimate enough to enjoy. But 10,000? I could barely see her. The band environment was powerful and Tori played well, but her funny stories and intimacy was gone. But probably the one thing I hated most was the crowd reaction to her. (bravegirl@earthlink.net)

It seems Tori is very actively attempting to change the vibe at the shows. Intimacy and reverence aren't what she's after right now—she's out to put on a full-fledged rock show and from the look on her face throughout the show in St. Louis, she's never been having more fun in her life. I've seen her play better, I've heard her sing better, I've seen her put on shows that were more emotional, more playful, and more intense, but I've never seen her so happy up there. She's having a ball. Wonder if on some level she doesn't see it as some kind of vindication for the Y Kant Tori Read days.
     Yes, the shows have in many ways become more "events" than concerts and the fan base has, to a significant degree, gone way down hill. But what I'm trying to say is that it *really* IS about the music. Don't write the shows off because of the fans or asinine ticket policies. Don't Give Up. 8) . She's still capable of putting on incredible shows—it's just a bit more difficult to enjoy them. After the wrist problems she had last tour, there's no way she's going to be able to play 5 shows in 3 days at smaller venues in the big cities anymore and I have to applaud her for adapting the show to the larger venues—any attempt to maintain an air of intimacy in an amphitheatre is destined for failure. (rjk1@cs.wustl.edu)

Despite having to wait outside all day and then being crushed during the entire show, this concert from Tori's "sneak preview" club tour was still a great experience, which I think is a good indication of how amazing the actual music was. (1998)
     Tori Amos's performance at the Wang Center in Boston was easily the best show that I attended all year, despite some stiff competition. Though I was underwhelmed (to say the least) by Strange Little Girls, seeing Tori perform without the band or Caton was extraordinary...there simply aren't enough superlatives to describe what a powerful, magical, stunning concert this was. (12/01, mcurry@io.com)

My worst concert disappointment of 1998 was the Choirgirl Hotel Tour. The show was too loud, too short and too overdone. The CD is great, but the "production" that is the tour overdid everything. (alex.teitz@state.co.us)

To be honest, I didn't like much of the Choirgirl Hotel Tour concert I saw, the highlights were definitely the moments without the band, though "Doughnut song" with band was a beautiful exception. The rest was just too loud. Like my least favourite song of the album, "She's your cocaine". (Marion)

The Tori/Alanis show was great. Only my second time seeing Tori live, also in Columbus last year on the Plugged tour. Which she said was one of her favorite shows on the tour, so that was really cool, because I was there! (And it was a really awesome show.)
     I didn't at all mind it being a greatest hits kind of show, because I had never seen her do any of these songs live, except for "Waitress" and "Precious Things". "Mother" and "Tear in Your Hand" actually brought tears to my eyes. (9/99, JoAnn.Whetsell)

i haven't seen Tori since, dunno, '93 or so. nothing is ever going to approach seeing her at the Iron Horse in MA on her first tour, and talking with her in the dressing room afterwards. but i enjoyed this show. i imagine it helped that i hadn't seen the intervening tours, as i was seeing and hearing the bulk of the songs live for the first time. for me, it was pretty much worth the price of admission to watch Matt Chamberlain drumming. because of the piano and our angle, Tori was visible from the nose up and the waist down; this proved to be vastly entertaining. the set list was pretty wide-ranging, and certainly not overly heavy on tracks from Abnormally Attracted to Sin. the song choices provided good dynamics over the show; no one seemed bored. there was a scorching performance of "Bliss" — though i seem to be more fond of to venus and back than most. lots of no-surprisers, like "Precious Things", "Cornflake Girl", encore of "Tear in your Hand". good band arrangement of "China". "Space Dog." um, lots of songs i am now forgetting. the goofy cover of the day was "...Baby One More Time", but her version wasn't nearly as good as Richard Thompson's. (7/09, bossert@suddensound.com)

highlights were "Give" and "Flavor" off the new album, "Hotel" (holy shit it was great) and "Raspberry Swirl" offChoirgirl, her cover of "Famous Blue Raincoat" and the encore all from American Doll Posse ("body and soul", "bouncing off clouds", "big wheel") (7/09, gordoja@optonline.net)

The first time I saw Tori was Little Earthquakes and she was fresh and funny, a personable frizzy red-head in jeans, telling us jokes and plucking our heart-strings. At my second Tori concert 15 years later, Pip strode out in a black wig and glamorous leather and screamed about motherfucking cunts. The Radio City Music Hall Abnormally Attracted to Sin concert was a partially deflated balloon: periodically aloft and bouncy, other times drifting across the carpet picking up fur and crumbs of meals past. Highlights included 'Space dog' with a backdrop of sparkling blue lights. The dawg rocked. 'Cornflake girl' and 'Precious things' were great with their tight arrangements—all the players (T on multiple keyboards, Jon Evans on bass, Matt Chamberlain on drums) knew what to do (though the audience perhaps knows what they're going to do too well). 'Talula' and full-band 'Icicle' were strong and brought out new aspects of the songs. 'Raspberry swirl' and 'Caught a lite sneeze' weren't perfect versions, but both fun. The pretty lighting was also a highlight, though I'm not sure about the intent behind directing lights AT the audience—you think we enjoy being blinded, why? The middle section of the concert was so damn slow though. Andante, then adagio, then largo, then grave, then curled up in bed with a soft pillow and a belly full of hot cocoa. How many freaking slow songs can she play? My mind wandered. I itemized the cutlery drying in my dish tray. I'll list the slooooow songs all together to emphasize my point: 'Give', 'Flavor', 'Lady in bloooo', 'Little earthquakes', 'Winter', 'Smells like teen spirit', 'Icicle', 'Bells for her'. And then to give it some pace she slipped in the slight 'Jamaica Inn' (bah!) and a mediocre 'Marys of the sea' (I enjoy this florid song, but the band version is turgid.) Also an unsuccessful 'Concertina', a pretty little song which with a light touch is charming, but this clunky band version made it sound simplistic rather than simple. 'Talula' into 'Fast horse' would have had me wriggling with delight, such a great combination, but no, she cut the fast song (see, it's even got a speedy name). A large impersonal venue like Radio City Music Hall does better with broad loud strokes. You could see attention drifting during the slow periods with toilet breaks, alcohol purchases and conversations. Pretty full venue though, which is good. People seemed to enjoy themselves, though security wouldn't let people dance in the aisles during the encore. Tori wore polished black heels, black tights and an Indian fringed tunic/dress in, perhaps, black and gray checked suit material. Or something. Well designed for her movement between keyboards. She also wore her eyebrows, but soon they will wriggle up to merge with her hair line.
     It's ridiculous how personal these things are. I much preferred the Red Bank NJ concert to NYC because I was in fifth row centre with a wonderful view of Tori's face, and the setlist was calibrated to my tastes. I'm jealous of you sensible people who can enjoy shows from a balcony seat, but I feel the distance and lack of emotional connection if I'm not close enough for the musicians to be people sized with visible facial expressions. The concert included favorites 'Horses', 'Pandora's', 'Siren', 'Tear', 'Hotel', 'Doughnut', heart-breaking solo 'Taxi ride', 'Fast horse', 'Take to the sky'. I enjoyed my non-favs too, such as 'Glory of the 80's', 'Bliss' and 'Josephine'. Second solo song was Joni Mitchell's 'Boys in trees' which I didn't need—I like Tori better :) 'Not dying today' was premiered and the lyrics still suck but when you ignore the lyrics you can enjoy the bouncy beat, and it was better as a rock song than the album's pop version. With three Neil Gaiman mentions ('Tear in your hand', 'Hotel', 'Not dying today'), she could have added 'Carbon' and thrilled us to death, but that came the next night in Philly instead :( (8/09, k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

Recommended first album:

Little Earthquakes is the most accessible for the first taste of Tori, though many prefer other albums. My personal favourite is Boys For Pele though it is probably not the best introduction. (Neile)

I like Tori's albums in chronological order: Little Earthquakes the most, Under the Pink next, then Boys for Pele. (Sherlyn.Koo)

It is really hard to decide between Under the Pink, Little Earthquakes, and Boys for Pele for me—they are all quite good. Early impressions of from the choirgirl hotel don't put it up with these three for me yet, but it sometimes takes a year for something to grow on me. I guess that especially Under the Pink and Little Earthquakes speak to me, and Boys for Pele is amazingly surreal and shamanic in some way—at least I understand it with a different mode than the logical. (rholmes@CS.Stanford.EDU)

Favourite album:

If it's the brilliance, uniqueness or challenge you're after than Boys for Pele is it. But many of us tuned into the emotional content, and for that few things can touch Little Earthquakes.... I can appreciate, and indeed admire Boys for Pele, but it's Little Earthquakes that I love, and that's probably how things will stay. Also, Little Earthquakes is now what—6 years old? It has all sorts of historical baggage attached and probably this is what really makes it so special to me. As I look back now it reflects and captures a very definite stage of my life. Boys for Pele on the other hand was simply another record. Good, great, whatever—but to me it just never had the same importance.... (afries@zip.com.au)

From what I've been reading everyone has a different favorite, for different reasons. I believe that's Tori's beauty...she's many different things and therefore her appeal is varied. But I rank Under the Pink as number one, Little Earthquakes as number two, from the choirgirl hotel as number three and Boys for Pele as the fourth. (FAMarcus@aol.com)

I'm definitely in the Boys for Pele Tori camp. I mean, I think she's always amazing, and Little Earthquakes is a tough act to beat, but Boys for Pele is an incredible piece of work. Love its roller coasteryness, love the orchestration. However, the only Tori song that I absolutely abhor is on there: "Talulah." Ironically, I have three CD singles for "Talulah" because of the different b-sides. Third favorite is Under the Pink, and, I have to admit, I was *very* disappointed with from the choirgirl hotel. (Plasterofstevie@aol.com)


Recordings:


Further info:

There are huge numbers of unofficial Tori Amos recordings. Check out the Tori Amos Bootleg Discography

Tori has three official videotape releases: Little Earthquakes, Live in New York (U.K. and Canada release only though it can be found in the U.S.), and The Complete Videos 1991-1998.

Tori has released three DVDs: A Sorta Fairtyale[DVD single] and Welcome to Sunny Florida [live concert], and Fade to Red, a video collection

She has co-authored a book entitled Tori Amos: Piece By Piece.

There is a Usenet newsgroup concerning Tori: rec.music.tori-amos

There are at least three (and probably more) Tori mailing lists:

  • To subscribe to Really Deep Thoughts (Right Now) send an email to rdtrn-request@torithoughts.org, with "Subscribe Thoughts" in the body of the message.
  • To subscribe to Precious Things send a message of "subscribe [your email address]" to precious-things-request@smoe.org
  • To subscribe to the moderated News-Only Tori List send a message to majordomo@smoe.org with a subject of "subscribe torinews [your email address]".
Tori has sung backup on many albums, including work by Ferron, Sandra Bernhard, Al Stewart, and Tom Jones, and has sung vocals on the "Blue Skies" single by BT (who has also done several remixes of Tori's songs for her singles. She also appears on various soundtrack albums, including those for Great Expectations, Twister and Higher Learning. She has participated in tribute albums, including Tower of Song for Leonard Cohen and sang a duet with Robert Plant for the Encomium Led Zeppelin tribute.


Thanks to Art Liestman and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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