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Live Review: Tori Amos – 20th November 2014 – City Recital Hall, Sydney, Australia

5 min read

Tori Amos has been very busy this month with her Unrepentant Geraldine’s tour touching down in cities all over Australia.  We were lucky enough to see the opening show of the Australian dates at the world famous Sydney Opera House and we were absolutely blown away. Walking away from that gig I wondered how on earth she could possibly top that. Well, she’s only gone and done it with a final Sydney show held within the quant settings of the City Recital Hall in Sydney’s CBD.

Both performances were rather unique shows within this latest tour; the singer was joined by an exquisite orchestral backdrop, courtesy of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the 11th and 12th of this month and the songs performed, apart from those that Tori performed unaccompanied by the SSO, remained unchanged over both evenings at the iconic music venue. Tonight’s performance was a late addition to the touring schedule and was billed as an exclusive request show for her most avid of fans.

Dressed semi-casually in a loose fitting black top, hugging jeans and eye catching killer red heels, Tori took to the stage at just shy of 20.30pm to a deafening applause. The vibe cast over the night from the very beginning was very casual – it was a show that was going to be very intimate and stripped back. There were no backing musicians or props other than the 6 large brickwork features that we cast behind the singer and her grand piano and keyboard that sat back to back in the middle of the stage for the musician to dominate and bring to life with her engaging musical stories. It really did feel like a get together with a bunch of friends and that feeling was encouraged by Tori as she spoke frequently to the crowd and showed affection to the venue full of people who had not only come to see her play but also helped create the evenings set list.

In the lead up to tonight’s performance, fans were encouraged to visit Tori’s website to vote for the 5 top songs that they wanted to hear at the show. I had done just that myself, calling out for A Sorta Fairytale, Raspberry Swirl, China, Hey Jupiter and Spark to make their grand appearances at some point during the set list. The first two of those thankfully did and they were the obvious centre pieces of the performance with the former being delivered with Tori’s gentle piano skills on display and the latter encouraging the whole venue to get up and dance with the stripped back instrumentation that resided over much of the show taking a back seat for the full throttle encore of Cornflake Girl and Raspberry Swirl.

The musicians 2005 record The Beekeeper was shown some love in the opening segment of the show with The Power of Orange Knickers and Butterflies falling back to back in the set alongside mainstream hits including Caught A Lite Sneeze and the opening eccentricities of Bliss while fan favourites such as Putting the Damage On and Ruby Through the Looking-Glass brought a sense of nostalgia and sentiment to the night with the two offering key ballads to the crowd; Tori whispering her way through lines within many of the songs during the evening and pouring emotion over the crowd at every available opportunity.

Midway into the show the singer’s famous ‘Lizard Lounge’ segment was called upon to spice things up. For those who do not know ‘Lizard Lounge’, this is a time for Tori to spin some magic on other artists work and it has become a staple to every Tori Amos concert with some surprising song appearances getting an Amos makeover. Tonight we were offered a mashup of The Carpenters’ Superstar with Beyonce’s Halo as well as a powerful rendition of Rick Springfield hit Jessie’s Girl – the latter being a rather appropriate Australian inclusion.

The singers latest tour is being heralded a major success, and why shouldn’t it be. She is 14 albums into a phenomenally successful career and at 51 years young she shows us that age is nothing but a number as she continues to deliver masterful performances and albums to her fans and inspire new generations. She can also still make her way around a piano – or two at the same time for that matter – like no other.

Tori has long been regarded a pioneer of the female singer-songwriter movement and an icon to her peers and to her fan base for over 20 years, ever since her Little Earthquakes debut back in 1992. There’s something almost other-worldly about Tori Amos. She has this unchallenged ability to retain every single audience member’s attention like no other performer that I have ever seen, sucking them into each shows patchwork of intricate melodies, impeccably delivered instrumentation at the seat of her signature instrument and thought provoking and profound lyricism that has no competition in site. There really is no one quite like Tori Amos and tonights show proved just that!

Set List:
Bliss
Caught a Lite Sneeze
Putting the Damage On
The Power of Orange Knickers
Sleeps with Butterflies
Northern Lad
A Sorta Fairytale
Ruby Through the Looking-Glass
Dixie
Superstar (Carpenters cover) (mashed up w/Beyoncé’s “Halo”)
Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield cover)
She’s Your Cocaine
Cooling
Yo George
Dark Side of the Sun
Fire on the Side (Y Kant Tori Read song)
Fire to Your Plain
Cornflake Girl
Raspberry Swirl