Monday, 19 July 2010

Tori Amos @ Apollo Victoria, London (18/07/10)

(Photo by Justin Ng)

At London’s Apollo Victoria last night - with the model dragon from the set of the theatre’s resident musical Wicked watching over her - Tori Amos played a show in which every single moment was a highlight. This was Amos’s only English stop on a short-ish European summer tour and the waves of appreciation and love coming from the crowd were extraordinary. For all its intense moments, the last Amos concert I saw (in another beautiful London theatre, the Savoy, last May) was a warmer, more playful and more relaxed affair. Banter, gags and stories were in short supply last night; instead Amos went for full-throttle intensity from the opening number (“Bells for Her,” played on synth and piano, which she alternated between or played simultaneously throughout the night), tearing through eighteen songs, and never breaking the incredible dynamic flow created by the music, in all its thrilling, rich diversity. From first note to last, Amos reduced the fairly cavernous venue to the intimacy of a living room. Where her energy, spirit and sheer daring come from is still, after all these years, a wondrous mystery. But as her voice roared, cooed, crooned, growled, barked, shrieked and purred tracks from across the range of her repertoire, and as her piano ushered forth everything from the most delicate arpeggio to booming low chords, the audience tapped right into that incredible force.

The cumulative power of the show was overwhelming but I’ll just record a few of the indelible moments in this review: the galvanising thunderous bass notes of “Dragon” (of course!), “Marianne,” and “Yes, Anastasia”; the percussive energy of “Space Dog” carrying over into a foot-stomping “Beauty of Speed”; the relish with which Amos delivered the “gets so fucking cold” line in “Northern Lad”; the ferocity generated on “The Power of Orange Knickers” and "Virginia"; the measured elegance of “Rattlesnakes” and “Garlands”; and, most movingly perhaps, the shock of a searing “Me and a Gun” (hardly ever performed these days) instantly reducing the cheering audience to pin-drop silence. The wild three-song encore -“Desperado,” “Personal Jesus” and “Take to the Sky” - encapsulated Amos’s uncanny ability to blend elements of a classical recital and a camp meeting into a hardcore rock show; she is, I’d wager, just about the only artist who could segue from an Eagles cover to a Depeche Mode cover and have it make perfect dramatic and thematic sense. “You need your own personal Jesus … Reach out and touch faith!” Amos declaimed, finding in Martin Gore’s words a perfect complement to the thorny sexual and spiritual conundrums posed so eloquently in her own music. Indeed, she wrapped snatches of “Body and Soul” around "Personal Jesus" like an ardent lover, while riffing across Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” on a final, dynamic “Take to the Sky.” “Feel the earth move under your feet - she needs you back out on the street!” We complied, reluctantly enough, stunned, grateful and energised, and equipped through the healing power of this music to inhabit our lives with more courage, more grace.


  1. Another wonderful Tori review, Alex! I would have LOVED to hear her perform "Desperado" (such a brilliant song), and "Take to the Sky" is one of my very favorite Tori tracks. Sounds like a truly exhilarating show...I'm glad to hear that you're still riding the wave of it.

  2. Thanks, Jason. Yes, it was a truly incredible show, and we all sang and clapped along to "Take to the Sky" ...

    Footage of last night's "Desperado" doesn't seem to have surfaced (yet), but here's a link to a stunningly beautiful performance of the song from a few years ago:

  3. I saw yesterday Tori's concert in Paris. It was absolutely awesome with some of my favorites : "Marianne", "Gold dust", "Winter" and many others. It was pure genius. This review catches exactly what I felt, thanks. She changed the set list : the opening was not "Bells for her" but "Curtain call" and "China" followed (in "Curtain call" you have the China's wall lyrics...seemed appropriate !)

  4. Merci! I’d have *loved* to have attended the Paris show as well. The set-list is always somewhat different every night, though the brilliant “Personal Jesus”/“Body & Soul” combination seems to have become a staple of this tour, which is great.

  5. PS. And I see you guys also got "Siren", you lucky people!