While usually known for her solo acoustic work, Tori Amos rocked out at a packed Arlington Theatre with a full band Dec. 13, to a full crowd with either serious fans or concertgoers who were definitely converted by the end of the show. She performed with a vivacity and intensity that was surprising considering that it was one of the last stops on her world tour.
Amos began the show as Clyde – one of her five characters representing the fragmented pieces of the female psyche featured on her latest album, American Doll Posse. Beginning with fan favorite “Bouncing off Clouds,” Amos performed with an intensity and energy that is much more muted when she performs solo. This tour featured a full band and an assortment of moving lights – something one would expect at a stadium rock show rather than a singer-songwriter with her dueling pianos at the Arlington. Amos showed off her expertise, playing a grand piano with one hand and an electric with the other, all while singing and performing.
During her set as Clyde, Amos relied heavily on older numbers, such as “Juarez” and “Little Earthquakes.” After a costume and character change Amos re-emerged as Tori, reborn with her characteristically flaming-red hair and a sequined leopard-print outfit. With “Big Wheel,” her enthusiasm won over any crowd member who was not an already crazy fan. Indeed, at one point, dozens of people rushed down the aisles to the front of the theatre to get closer to the star.
Opening the show was soloist Yoav, who – through a series of effects and looping pedals – was literally his own band. The guitar served as both a string and percussion instrument, and his tunes were catchy and enjoyable. His cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” was an interesting rendition, while his own “Adore Adore” is quite pleasant and definitely worth a listen. His good music and cute demeanor quickly won over Amos’ audience, which was predominantly female.
While Amos’ set relied on mostly older songs, the show was full of personal stories, conveyed so well by Amos’ lyrics and her physicality in her piano playing. The songs she played were more personal stories of women and femininity. She stayed away from her overtly political pieces, instead focusing on emotion and personal experience. She ended with “Tear in Your Hand,” an emotional piece about the pain of a sudden breakup. Amos’ intimate relationship with her pianos was also emphasized during the show, and during a two-song acoustic set, “Tori & Bö” (short for her Bösendorfer grand piano) was projected upon the drapes. Having dismissed the band, the songs “Toast” and “Alamo” were slower, more drawn out, yet exemplary of Amos’ ability to play both a fired-up rock concert and acoustic, soulful set in the same show.
If you missed Amos on her American Doll Posse World Tour not to worry because most of her U.S. concerts were “bootlegged” – professionally recorded and available for download. Choose from either MP3 or FLAC format and pick a show. Unfortunately, her Santa Barbara show is not available, but many of her others are. To pick a concert, go to www.toribootlegs.com.