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Live Review: Tori Amos – 11th November 2014 – Sydney Opera House, Australia

6 min read

For an artist like Tori Amos, gathering up a new set list to take on the road to fans must to be one of the easiest tasks that she would have to face. The number of songs that Amos has written during her years as one of music’s most highly regarded songwriters is really quite astounding and she has only gone and added more to her repertoire with the release a brand new record, Unrepentant Geraldine’s which was unveiled earlier this year.

While the red-headed beauty released her 14th studio album this year, the surprising thing about a Tori Amos show is that although this offers the singer ample new material to showcase, she isn’t out to plug songs from a new record when she takes to the road. Instead, Tori delivers a career encapsulating night of music based on what the fans want and where her creative energy takes her on the night. No two Tori Amos performances are the same and over the years I have learned to expect the unexpected and to always be delivered brilliance at a Tori Amos concert!

When Tori announced the dates for her Unrepentant Geraldine’s tour for fans in Sydney a few months ago, something extra special was prepared. The shows were not just confirmed for the world famous Sydney Opera House; the perfect venue for an icon like Amos but she also revealed that she would be joined by the impeccable Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Tori’s first performance in the country in support of the new LP was last night at the Opera House and what a show it was! The venue was packed to the rafters with fans that had come to see the on stage radiance of who I personally regard as the greatest live performer of our time. The stage was decked with instruments that formed a half-circle around the enormous grand piano and keyboard which sat at the front and centre of the quant stage.

As the members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra took their seats and the lights dimmed, a thunderous applause swept the venue as Mrs Amos emerged from the side of the stage looking absolutely stunning and every bit the icon. Wearing tight fitting leather pants and a long flowing turquoise cape like outfit that followed the singers every step around the stage, Tori delivered one of the most exceptional performances that I have seen from the many Tori Amos shows I have attended, opening with the gentle Baker Baker from the musicians 1994 studio release, Under The Pink.

The following Girl Disappearing showed that she was just like the rest of us side with the singer “fucking up” as she so eloquently put it after messing up a line of the song and requesting that she restart. Before doing so however we were treated to an improvised number about how she always messes up and is sorry to the players on the stage for doing so. The mistake gave a sense of vulnerability to an artist so well known for her intricate catalogue but who is unashamed and brutally honest when she stumbles. This also showed the perfectionist side of the superstar who wants to right the wrong and deliver a perfect performance to her fans and to herself.

While the tour is billed as the Unrepentant Geraldine’s tour, for last night’s Opera House performance not one song from the new album could be found within the set list. Looking back on the set now and because of the orchestral backdrop of the show it was more like a tour in support of her 2012 classically reimagined hits collection Gold Dust due to 9 of the 14 tracks from that album showing up and one time or another during the show. While it was unfortunate to not hear new songs like Troubles Lament or Promise, it was made up for with immaculate rearrangements of career notables like the soft Hey Jupiter and the over-the-top quirkiness of Programmable Soda with its complimenting horns.

Coming from a classically trained background and with many of the musician’s record being soaked in classical influences, particularly those records of recent years like her Night of Hunters and Gold Dust releases being given the classical treatment, the songs during last night’s show lent themselves very well to the accompaniment that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra provided. Successful singles like Silent All These Years and the closing Precious Things were were given a powerful and cinematic unveiling with the orchestra providing a sturdy backbone to each while a wave of violins helped tell the sentimental story of Winter as Tori guided through the track with truly mesmerizing instrumental beauty and goose-bump inducing vocal finesse.

Some of the songs performed during the set where Tori was unaccompanied by all but her piano and keyboard proved to be some of the evenings most memorable. Crucify was electric at the start of the set with the singer swaying between her back to back piano and keyboard; playing both simultaneously for the most part. Purple People offered us a soaring note to cap off the track and that had people talking about during intermission. Bells For Her, another track featured on Under The Pink was a delicate addition to the second half of the set while 1999’s Venus and Back single 1000 Oceans proved to be one of the biggest tearjerkers of the night as the singers voice swept over the venue as she sang “I would cry 100 more if that’s what it takes to sail you home” with nothing but the tender accompaniment of her piano. Absolutely exquisite!

I challenge anyone to go and see Tori Amos live and to not come out of the venue feeling absolutely blown away. Though her song-writing may be an acquired taste and a little too intricate or confusing for some, there is no denying the magical stage presence of Amos, her flawless and highly skilled vocals or her masterful playing of her signature instrument. Combine that with the backing of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and it almost brought tears to my eyes. This is it! This is the real deal and this is a musician that is at the head of the pack and is a fine example of genuine, unfaltering musical genius. Of the hundreds of concerts that I have seen and will see in my time, this will prove to be one of the highlights.

First Set:
Baker Baker
Girl Disappearing
Crucify
Winter
Maybe California
Leather
Cloud On My Tongue
Purple People
Hey Jupiter

Second Set:
Jackie’s Strength
Bells For Her
Snow Cherries from France
Programmable Soda
Silent All These Years
1000 Oceans
Yes Anastasia

Encore:
Edge Of The Moon
Precious Things

If you missed Tori’s Sydney Opera House performance last night, you can still catch her on the following dates of the Unrepentant Geraldine’s tour:

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 12 – SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, SYDNEY (limited tickets available)
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 15 – PALAIS THEATRE, MELBOURNE
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 16 – HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, ADELAIDE
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 18 – RIVERSIDE THEATRE, PERTH
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 20 – CITY RECITAL HALL, SYDNEY
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 21 – QPAC CONCERT HALL, BRISBANE