Tori Amos Bewitches Ann Arbor, MI 10-31-17

Tori Amos Bewitches Ann Arbor, MI 10-31-17

Classically trained Singer-Songwriter Tori Amos has been enchanting audiences for nearly 30 years, with an ethereal vocal style that is unmistakably her own. Her skill on the piano is unparalleled within popular music, and also distinctive, using the whole register to accompany her sirènic voice.

Born Myra Ellen Amos in North Carolina in 1963, she would go on to grow up in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland areas. Impressively, at the age of 5, she received a scholarship to the Peabody Conservancy of Music, and making music has been part of her life since. Though she would leave Peabody at age 11, she was involved with making music throughout her teen years, winning a songwriting competition in 1980 that led to a new theme song for the Baltimore Orioles baseball club.

Showing so much promise at a young age, after a failed attempt at Pop music with the band Y Kant Tori Read in 1988, Amos found commercial and critical success upon the release of her 1992 debut solo album, Little Earthquakes. Her 1994 follow-up, Under the Pink, spawned several hits on Alternative radio, cementing her status as one of the preeminent singer-songwriters of her generation. Over the years, Amos has released multiple platinum albums, toured globally, and been an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, most notably by co-founding the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the United States’ largest anti-sexual violence organization in 1994.

Still going strong, Amos returned on September 8, 2017 with her 15th studio album, Native Invader. Touring in support of the new record, starting September 6th in Ireland, Amos visited cities throughout Europe through the first week of October before returning to the US to open the second leg of the tour in Minneapolis on October 24th. Set to continue performing through November, and conclude with a three-night stand in Los Angeles December 1st through 3rd, before rushing ahead, there are plenty of music left to indulge in. 

Speaking of which, on Tuesday, October 31st, The Native Invader Tour stopped at a faithfully restored movie palace, the fabulous Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Many in the crowd attended in full Halloween regalia, with capes, wands, and pointy hats seeming to be the most popular choice. Amos took the stage in something of a Halloween costume of her own. She donned a flowing sheer number and accessorized with a full bridal veil.

With little fanfare, Amos broke into the first song of the night, a haunting rendition of “Iieee” from her 1998 album From the Choirgirl Hotel. Amos, whose voice is a bit more mature than two decades ago when the song was written, is still a formidable vocalist. Furthermore, her playing has evolved over the years with a grace and command that is rare. The set continued with “Bliss” from 1999’s to Venus and Back. With Amos being the queen of cryptic lyrics, listeners over the years have made a cottage industry of attempting to interpret her words. “Bliss” is a great example of leaving many things unsaid and allowing the listener to interpret the meaning for themselves.

After “Bliss,” Amos welcomed the audience and greeted them warmly, albeit quietly. Not known to be oblivious to the audience in the style of, say, Bob Dylan, Amos is still somewhat aloof from the audience. Though she mumbled a few words between songs throughout the evening, the greeting and welcome were the extent of her spoken interaction. However, since the audience was not there to listen to her speak, it is likely no one noticed.

Keeping the audience enthralled, she continued with “Sister Janet” from Under the Pink, another poignant, melancholic number which evokes images of magic and flowing shimmery robes. This was before Amos performed a rendition of “Daisy Dead Petals” from Pink and continued with “Fire on the Side” from her 1988 Y Kant Tori Read project. Provoking thunderous applause from the crowd, two fan-favorites followed with “Putting the Damage On” and “Caught a Lite Sneeze” from 1996’s Boys for Pele album. 

For many years, Amos has dedicated the middle of her show to various covers. For this tour, she calls this segment the Fake Muse Network, with a stylized Fox News logo projected on the stage background. In Ann Arbor she covered “Bell, Book, and Candle,” a cover of Scottish Folk Singer Eddi Reader and, as it is her habit to pay tribute to a local musical legend in the town she is playing, she covered Madonna’s 1986 hit “Live to Tell.” Amos struggled a bit with the Madonna song, at one point stopping altogether and exclaiming, ”aww, I’ve fucked it up,” to uproarious applause from the audience who were eager to forgive.

The second half of the show opened with, strangely, the only song from Native Invader that she performed. At her best when working on the lower end of the keys with accents from the higher notes, Amos spellbound the crowd with “Reindeer King,” a slow, ruminating song that evokes the magic and mystery of an icy winter morning. Thereafter, the time was right for “Merman,” a lullaby of sorts, written for From the Choirgirl Hotel in 1998, but not appearing on the album.

Moving on, Amos performed one of her most iconic songs, “Silent All These Years.” Over the years, no pun intended, “Years” became a quiet song in concert, but it was all the more affecting for its evolution. As with the earlier fan-favorites, the song drew roaring applause from the audience. Yet there was still more to come as the show closed with performances of “Bells for Her” and “Tear in Your Hand” before Amos left the stage with the crowd clamoring. Much to fans delight, she returned for an encore of “Precious Things” and “A Sorta Fairytale” from 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.

Finishing playing for the final time, Amos took a bow and surveyed the crowd with the house lights on before exiting the stage. Having successfully delighted yet another sold-out room, the crowd, yet still thirsty for more, left the theater with the knowledge that they had experienced something special.

Tour Dates:
November 7 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
November 8 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
November 10 – Atlanta, GA @ Atlanta Symphony Hall
November 11 – Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center
November 12 – Nashville, TN @ The Ryman Auditorium
November 14 – New Orleans, LA @ Mahalia Jackson Theatre
November 16 – Dallas, TX @ The Pavilion at Irving Music Factory
November 17 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater
November 19 – Denver, CO @ The Paramount Theatre
November 22 – Portland, OR @ Schnitzer Hall
November 24 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount Theatre
November 25 – Eugene, OR @ The Hult Center for Performing Arts
November 26 – Oakland, CA @ The Paramount Theater
November 28 – San Diego, CA @ The Balboa Theatre
November 29 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Mesa Arts Center (MAC)
December 1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel
December 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel
December 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Purchase The Native Invader:

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Allen J. Miller
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  • J. Lucian Rathbun
    Posted at 11:15h, 27 August Reply

    Thank you for this summary! It’s hard to remember certain details, without help. Tori casts quite the spell over an audience–one that makes chronological recall difficult.
    I’d like to reciprocate, by helping you to remember too. When T was performing Live to Tell by Madonna, she got stuck on the transition to the bridge (the bridge begins, lyrically, with “If I ran away, I’d never have the strength to go very far…”). She apologized by saying “Fuck! I’m sorry.” That moment really stuck with me, because I didn’t know that she was capable of an error; neither had I ever experienced an apology from a demigod. That moment was everything.

    • Allen J Miller
      Posted at 22:30h, 31 October Reply

      Thank you. It was a magical experience. One I won’t forget.

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