Tori Amos has just completed the European leg of her solo Unrepentant Geraldines tour (album and London show review here), with a staggering series of performances that, once again, have surprised and amazed and confounded with the diversity of their set-lists. I’ve written about Amos’s cover versions before (here and here), but the Lizard Lounge section of this tour’s shows – the mid-way spot at which Amos performs requested or city-specific covers - has yielded so many awesome performances that I wanted to post something on them. Honestly, I can’t think of another artist capable of performing the diverse range of material that Amos has delivered so brilliantly over the last couple of months (everything from Metallica to Rodgers and Hammerstein), all of which she has made come out "Tori." Below, with some brief commentary, are some of the covers that I’ve loved the most so far. (And thanks/kudos to those who got such great footage. :))
A raw and brutal take on Moby's Bourne series closer, with percussive piano and a startling growled vocal taking us deeply into the “dirty basements, dirty noise” that the song evokes. The piano punch at the end suggests a way out, perhaps.
“Not Gonna Get Us”
A truly exhilarating gallop through t.A.T.u’s contemporary classic complete with Russian language opening.
“Rooting For My Baby”/”Three Babies”
As we know by now, cover versions, for Amos, aren’t just a diversion but a way of finding new meanings in material, of inhabiting a song from a fresh perspective, of connecting with other artists, across time and space, of showing the history of music to be one seamless, ever-evolving story. Performing Miley Cyrus’s “Rooting For My Baby” alongside Sinead O’Connor’s “Three Babies” Amos made a beautiful bridge of connection between two female artists that suggested the transcendence of the pair’s silly public spat.
Performed on Stevie Nicks’s birthday (aw!), Amos treats this Fleetwood Mac gem with the utmost reverence, investing the heart-wrenching lyrics with an exquisite mixture of sorrow and defiance. Unrequited love never hurt so good. Very special.
“Nights in White Satin”
“A sonic rainbow. In here. Those motherfuckers can’t take that away.” A superb foul-mouthed tirade referencing the destruction of the Warsaw rainbow arch by neo-Nazis precedes Amos’s beautiful performance of The Moody Blues’ glorious epic, one that transforms the song into an anthem of gay community support , complete with subtle, ineffably Tori lyrical shift: “Just what they want you to be you can’t be in the end/Just what you want you to be, you must be in the end.” The cover of the tour so far, for me.
Timelessly elegant, restrained and beautiful. I was nearly at this show.*cries*
“Take My Breath Away”
“I don’t remember playing this ever. But I’m menopausal, so I might have.”
“Famous Blue Raincoat”
Once more in Warsaw, here Amos hilariously adlibs her way out of a mistake before slipping right back into the dark heart of Cohen’s endlessly ambiguous psychodrama.
“Rise Like A Phoenix”
So who’d have thought that within Conchita Wurst’s bombastic Eurovision winner lurked the soul of an Amos opus? Transformed. Reborn.
Also worthy of note:
"Nothing Else Matters"
“In Your Room”