Front Page Reviews & AIR
Tori Amos - Night of the Hunters Tour
Boston MA—Orpheum Theater—Tuesday December 6, 2011
She was, of course, stunning—in a black dress, satiny leggings, and a single gold lame sleeve. Diminutive, too, standing five feet tall and quite thin, but when she sits down at her Bosendorfer she becomes a commanding presence. As the curtain (never one to shy away from theatrics) went up, the stage was bathed in a deep violet light and in between a piano and a keyboard sat Tori. To the right of the stage was Apollon Musagete, a string quartet from Poland. As she played, she kept peering out into the audience, seducing us, appealing for approval. Sexy, adorable, solemn, and playful. Everything we want out of a lover and a friend. Fans went wild—screaming, howling with every new song she played.
Like so many other young girls, I was obsessed with Tori in high school. My friends and I would sit around and listen to her music, singing along, reacting viscerally to her debut solo album Little Earthquakes (1992). Her song, "Me and a Gun," which tells the story of being raped after playing a show at a nightclub, haunted and intrigued me. She was angry, passionate, and tender. Little Earthquakes was just an early moment in a 3 decade long career, which began with her stint in the amazingly 80s sounding band Y Kant Tori Read, and has stretched out to twelve solo studio albums. She has taken us through so many concept albums—Strange Little Girls, The Beekeeper, Scarlet's Walk, to name a few—she has shown us myth, fairy tales, and her own personal figurations of the cosmos. She has integrated Eastern European waltz, classical harpsichord, Celtic music, gospel, African drums, and pop. Each one of her albums is a narrative, each song a piece of the story, each show a reminder of how much physical energy she devotes to her art.
Her latest is Night of Hunters (2011). On December 6th, 2011 I had the pleasure of attending the Boston show (Orpheum) for the Night of Hunters Tour. Although I have seen her twice before—both in 2003—I was as spell-bound as ever: she has neither stopped nor slowed. Despite continuously pushing her vocals to the limits of their range for years, her voice is in great shape; although, some of the more wailing notes that made their way onto her album To Venus and Back (1999) have been replaced by more playful and shorter-held lower octave notes. Still, her willingness to improvise attests to her artistry, as does her ability to play two pianos simultaneously—often switching between a grand and a harpsichord; although, during this show between a grand and a keyboard with synthesizers, which captured To Venus and Back's retro 80s sound.
In fact, To Venus and Back, was the belle of the ball. An exciting, mournful, and pounding album, Tori played a number of songs from it on this night, including “Suede” and “1,000 Oceans.” To Venus and Back is perhaps the strangest, spaciest, synthesiziest of all Tori’s albums, its dreamy quality fit well with the tonal aesthetics of Night of Hunters and was well-complemented by Apollon Musagete.
Tori also mixed in some great cover tunes. Elton John's Someone Saved my Life Tonight was a crowd pleaser. When she sang "Thank god my music's still alive," the audience went crazy with joy. During Landslide, when Tori sang "I'm getting older too," the whole audience cheered. Tori's music—much of which is conceptual and persona driven—also speaks to the hang-ups and fears that many women—not just famous women—in our culture have regarding romance, aging, and sex. Her audience—me included—celebrated her honesty. I’ve been celebrating it for years, and at times, clinging to it. Following a musician for many, many years makes you feel like old friends. New albums and tours are a chance to get reacquainted, to be surprised by how much has stayed the same and how much has changed—in me and in her.