Tori in Concert
Monday, Mar 17, 2003
Kerry and I saw Tori Amos in concert last night, and the performance was fantastic.

After acclimating myself to the fact that I was about eight years older than the average audience member, and that smoking appeared to be legal inside the auditorium, we sat down and enjoyed a truly impressive show.

Held on the campus of Duquesne ('Doo-caine') University, there were probably fewer than 3000 people in a half basketball arena where they clearly stuffed in Tori's stage and lighting grand enough for a crowd five times that size.

The show was all about the music. Bassist and drummer in the rear corners, and Tori nestled between a full grand piano and a stack of synth keyboards on the other side, I don't see how people on the ground seats off to the side could see her through the instrument racks, but second row balcony worked very nicely.

The lighting for this show was spectacular. Tori's all about communicating emotion through song, and light effects were used to augment the emotion. Rich colors, patterns that silhouetted each head in the audience giving them golden halos, and multi-spectrum spotlights turned the hundred-foot high cube of smokey air into a visual sensorium that James Turrell would have been proud of.

Each song went the same way. Notes would start, small cheers would rise, the song would wander to the main theme when it became clear to the rest of the crowd which song it was, and the cheering would rise threefold, then die down as people just watched, rapt.

The ground floor folks were standing in front of their seats the whole show, just watching. Entranced.

Tori's a flirt, but didn't talk much. She's inches away from becoming a Diva if she wanted to and she knows it, but she holds it in check. Still, this didn't stop her from performing a beautiful solo of Madonna's "Live to Tell" that showed that even new, voice-trained Madonna can't hold a candle to Tori's raw talent.

In short, I really enjoyed this concert. I wasn't star-struck, but it was a great emotional experience. Somewhere between Ani DiFranco and Enya, every song floated with no-holds-barred emotion. I saw an interview with Janeane Garafolo on Conan O'Brien the other month, where she complained that artist are realizing that sex can substitute for talent, and there's a direct relationship between the lack of clothes and the lack of talent in most pop stars today. All I can say is seeing Tori powerfully and expertly playing a Grand with one hand, an synth behind her with the other, and singing in perfectly pure tones with a big smile on her face, she's the real deal. Just amazing pure talent.

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