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.