Tori Amos proved that she remains a unique, vigorous, and sometimes perplexing performer at the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine’s last night.
The stage was simple, just a side profile of a grand piano and three stacked keyboards , with a bench in between. Amos bounded on stage in spike heels, her get-up silky and flowy, her signature orange hair reaching all the way down her back, and immediately took her place between piano and keyboards. She remained there, in true diva fashion, for almost two hours, sharing her extensive repertoire with the audience.
It may have been the Native Invader tour, but Amos only played two tracks from that new release, instead mostly weaving in and out of her older albums. Perched confidently between piano and synths, and even occasionally playing both at once while singing, she knew how to fill the space onstage. Her layered voice tracks, her expansive piano playing, and her connection to the audience created so large a presence you could almost forget there was just one woman up there.
After three songs, Amos briefly addressed the audience. “Good evening, Minne--" she began, before correcting herself, "St. Paul! Lots of energy to shake up.” Then she continued to pound the keys and wail into the mic. During an extended version of “Crucify,” she added the line, “These chains not again/ These chains are breaking,” which felt particularly resonant in the current political climate. But the commentary Amos followed this with was a bit cryptic. At the end of the song, a banner dropped that looked identical to the Fox News logo, but instead said, “Fake Muse Network.” As a political statement, this one was beyond me. What exactly is a fake muse?
Then came the memorials. Amos asked the audience to stop and think for a moment about the musicians we have lost recently, and I thought for sure a Tom Petty song would follow. Instead she sang Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird,” though that band’s members are all alive and well. Then, as one does when performing in the Twin Cities these days, Amos covered Prince, playing a haunting version of “Purple Rain.”
I got a little squirmy during that latter stretch of Amos’s set. The pieces started to melt together and even some of the songs I had listened to over and over in my room as a pre-teen were unrecognizable. Then she performed a mash-up of “Way Down” and “When Doves Cry,” and it was one of those remarkable moments that can only happen in a live performance. And Amos knew it. “This has never been done by me in this way before – so I need lip gloss,” she said. “Everyone, good luck, and see you on the other side of this song.”
Notes on the opener: Scars on 45, a shy trio from Bradford, UK, won the hearts of the biggest audience of their lives, taking a picture of the crowd "to show all our friends at home."
Click here to see a full photo gallery of Tori's show.
I Know Where I am
America the Beautiful
Songbird (Fleetwood Mac Cover)
Purple Rain (Prince Cover)
Bells for Her
Way Down/When Doves Cry (Prince cover)
A Sorta Fairytale