Tori Amos - Rough Trade NYC - 4/29/14
Every time Tori Amos returns to music, it feels as if she's been gone forever. The reality is she only breaks between album cycles for two, maybe three years. The time leading to her latest album has been one marked by a departure from the mainstream and into classical music (Night of Hunters), and one full of re-workings of songs spanning her then 20-year career (Gold Dust). Amos' 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines, set to be released on May 13th, may be a return after her longest musical displacement yet. Judging by the sound of her newest songs, the alt-rock goddess has done nothing but find ways to fuel her musical fire.
See also: Y Tori Can Groove
At Rough Trade, an intimate crowd of Amos devotees were in the audience clad with wristbands to get albums signed after the show. It's a refreshing experience, in most cases, to be surrounded by a small set of an artist's most fervent fans. The excitement is more tangible, more real. They screamed like a stadium at a pop concert, clapping heartily and excitedly at the recognition of the opening lines of each new song and showed no difference in appreciation between the new and the old. Their energy photosynthesized the singer at her piano as she progressed throughout her sadly short set.
Watching Tori Amos live is, I imagine, similar to what witnessing Joni Mitchell in concert would feel like. Clad in dueling shades of green that were offset by her burst of signature red hair and cat-eye glasses, the artist played the role of playful raconteur from the moment she sat at her piano, gesticulating wildly when the story needed her to and letting her vocal range drive the emotional undertones of her songs. It takes seeing her in concert to truly appreciate the tricks her words, voice, and piano can play in unison.
Over the half-hour she was on stage, Amos gave a sampling of her best mythologies, beginning with "Parasol," the moving opener from her 2005 album The Beekeeper. Her voice quaked and quivered on "Strange" from 2002's concept album about a post-9/11 America titled Scarlet's Walk. "Trouble's Lament" and "Selkie," the only songs off of the brand new Unrepentant Geraldines she played, fit right into the sonic balance of the story-filled set. The former harkened back to some Southern folk roots while the latter referenced her influence from more mystical folklore. In this case, Amos sings of the Selkies of the Irish/Scottish tradition while in the process of telling a tragic and beautiful love story in her very vivid way.