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Generally Recognized As True: Tori Amos concert : August 10, 2009 : Massey Hall : Toronto, ON

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tori Amos concert : August 10, 2009 : Massey Hall : Toronto, ON

I went to see the Toronto stop of Tori Amos's "Sinful Attraction" tour at Massey Hall last night.

There's a strange feeling at Tori Amos concerts. There are a lot of people at these shows that seem to act far younger than their age -- that is to say that they are immature -- and I'm not sure what that's all about. There are also a lot of gay people, vegan-looking types, and people with thick-rimmed glasses. There would be a lot of wool coats if it was winter. It's an offbeat crowd. I am the one that keeps it grounded :)

"Bells For Her" was well done, as were "Lady in Blue", "Concertina", and "Carbon". The familiar but short improv was dedicated to bassist Jon Evans because it was his birthday.

But I just couldn't hear a lot of the other songs because the sound was cranked so loud that everything just mashed together into a sludge. This has been getting progressively worse with each tour -- far more focused on an ambiguous energy than an acoustically-pleasing set. I have a feeling it is becoming a bit too much about the persona than it is about the music. You really had to know the music and lyrics in advance or you wouldn't have been able to make them out in many cases. The piano was often buried and even when it did come out, it was bright and harsh. I spent much of this concert in a phased-out state like you do when you're at the dentist.

I would probably pay twice as much for a solo piano show with good acoustics (I have never seen one, though she has done many in the past, before I started going to her shows), but I'm not sure I will go to another of her shows unless I know in advance that it's going to be acoustic. I was on the fence about this one already (actually, I said I wouldn't go :)).

I don't expect that to happen, because the audience still very much likes what she's doing. So maybe I'm the odd one out.

People taking photos and videos were also getting a bit annoying, as ushers were constantly coming around to get people to turn the cameras off and the sea of flashing LCD displays seen from behind the audience was getting distracting. They should have started kicking people out because it was obvious that it wasn't allowed. Everyone involved seemed to be waiting for their own private warning from the staff before putting the camera away. But, on the other hand, this wasn't one of those concerts where half the audience doesn't arrive until the opening act is underway which is also an annoying characteristic of modern-day concerts that wasn't much of a problem here.

The opening band was very good, actually, and I haven't yet been disappointed by one of her openers. It was a British group called "One eskimO" (isn't "eskimo" offensive these days? Hard to keep track). The best description I can think of is that they were like a blend of Martin Page and James Blunt. The lead singer progressed from a forward hunch, hobbling from one foot to another like a caveman (or eskimo?) to some kind of shy rain dance (inconsiderate, since I hadn't brought my umbrella), to actually standing up straight by the end of the set.

Well, a disappointing show after all, but I'm sure I'm in the minority with that opinion.


Anonymous said...

Tori Amos has put out her best album and tours it her way. This is actually the first "synth" album by Tori and those pianoites (like me) or keyboardies (like me) know how she's recently progressed and started using Hammond, Which was absent at the start of the show. Starting from the encore-back we seen how much fun Tori was having with her ragdoll dance at the being of this one encore. (Big Wheel) The show ender was "Strong Black Vine" and was the highlight of the Show with Hammond replacing the Syths earlier- Tori looked easily like the most current Prog Rock Keyboardist yelling M****** F*****. Definately the highlight of my Tori concert. Go Girl. Other highlights include: A most sensual version of "Pass the Mission" an unexpected "Welcome to England" (not on too many previous set lists) and from my unobstructed viewpoint the most amazing "Precious Things" wow how I love that riff. Tori played favorites "Cornflake Girl", "A Sorta Fairytale" and opened with "Give" like we all know that she would. Who started the rumour that she was touring with orchestra? That would be sick!
Tori, I love you anyway you cum!

mattbg said...

Well, as I said, it seemed like most people liked what she was doing. But I have gone from thinking that she was a great stage performer who often improved on her studio recordings when live to thinking the opposite.

Did she play "Past The Mission" in Toronto? I don't think so... do you mean "Bells For Her"?

The fact that you thought "Strong Black Vine" was the best of the night shows that we are looking for different things. I found it raunchy and it made my ears bleed. As I said in my short review, I think it is now more about personality than about the music.

The sound quality at concerts is confusing to me because her recordings are of the highest quality.

Anonymous said...

I meant "Putting the Damage On" others complained about the volume - see these reviews

mattbg said...

I only see one review complaining about the volume amongst those reviews, and it was written by ME :)

joseeg said...

Well, I would say you ARE the odd one out. I loved it. Loved, loved, loved. The fans in awe all around me would agree. And although my veganism categorizes me into the Toriphile crowd you describe, I certainly do not smell like patchoulie or wear 2nd hand clothes and thick glasses. :) My fave tunes were Hotel (the chorus holds a special place in my hear), Orange Knickers, Cornflake, Mother (sniff), Lady in Blue, Precious Things and Strong Black Vine - WILD!!!!! You have to just appreciate SBV for what it is. A crazy wild tune not meant to be pretty! She rocked the sh*t of of that piano and released her inner metal chick for 4 minutes - i enjoyed every second of it!

mattbg said...

What you said about SBV reminded me that she has always said that her "Y Kant Tori Read" days were about other people enocuraging her to be something that she wasn't. But that SBV performance last week makes me wonder about the truth of that... it seems to me that YKTR is on the way back lately.