Concert Review: Tori Amos @ Massey Hall

Tori Amos
Tori Amos enchanted everyone at Massey Hall on Friday evening. It is truly difficult to describe one of the most influential musicians in my life – a woman who exudes such beauty, with such an array of traditional sound that pushes the boundaries of what we classify as music these days. Her emotionally intense material and maternal demeanor, Tori was truly ageless.

With her one-night-only stop in Toronto, every seat was filled with someone who truly understood the intrinsically beautiful mind of this musician. Tori has toured for 38 years and travels with a catalogue of quirky, elaborate, spine-tingling repertoire that is most loved and cherished. With decades of musicianship behind her, she emulates no-one. She is a virtuoso, with blinding talent, her mastermind compositions sometimes are a bit off-beat, but never unlovable. When she is on stage, she is a marvel. I grew up listening to the albums Boys From Pelee, To Venus and Back and From The Choirgirl Hotel; from the age of twelve I tried imitating her style, abandoning my sheet music and letting out my hair; trying to feel the piano keys and let the music come organically from my fingertips.

She walked onto a stage that was bare, except for her Bosendorfer Grand piano and a small keyboard that stood upright behind it. To our great fortune, tonight’s solo performance was much more intimate and relaxed. In my opinion, her talent is standalone as something raw, beautiful.

She immediately began her set with favorites Parasol, and Curtain Call before she said hello – one overzealous gentleman kept shouting “Yeeeeahhh” in a deep raspy voice from the back – it was uncomfortable, yet endearing that he knew her setlist inside out. Fans in the front row pleaded “Tell us a story!!!” because if you haven’t heard Tori’s sound, every lyric to every song tells a deep, symbolic story of her experiences. She told us that she felt like she was in our living room – a grand testament to how comfortable she is in her own skin, and the historic Massey Hall which has been inhabited by legends over the years. Then she continued to play my personal favorites Caught A Light Sneeze and Horses – a wall of bronze stars lit up behind her and took me to this very nostalgic, personal creative space – I wanted to close my eyes and let it envelop me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she became an extension of her instrument, reaching behind her to play the keyboard simultaneously and straddling the bench while letting her voice weave itself inbetween.

When she began Icicle, she admitted to making a mistake and started again – she made us blush with her wit, her sass, and clever pauses – it is a bible-themed ode to masturbation, after-all. Invisible Boy brought a tear to my eye as she encompassed this dialogue within it, her compassionate whispers that embodied a sense of pity for the boy in the song, and a simple yellow light that shone to the left of her on stage, reminded me of a sun that has set on her past, the nostalgia was thick.

Amos loves to cover songs in the middle of her set, almost as a Segway into the next half, and tonight she did something she hasn’t tried before – and even called out to her husband and daughter for confirmation – they were seated not far from me in the audience. On this night in the Lizard Lounge she did a mash-up of Tom Petty’s Freefallin’ and Sarah McLachlan’s Building A Mystery – it was uplifting and very spirited and I sang along to every lyric; it garnered even more love from North of the Border. She followed it with Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You – rest assured, Joni would be proud.

I couldn’t resist feeling a shiver down my spine as she got deep into the chorus of Bliss and IIEE, those were my close-my-eyes moments of the night, but as soon as she started to play Cornflake Girl, many of us rushed the stage and started dancing along with her. She walked to the edge of the stage afterwards to shake our hands before she exited and that was my highlight of the night. Tori Amos shook my hand. I, along with the girl next to me, were truly star-struck and hugged each other afterwards.

Of course, Tori came back on stage for a 3 song encore, delighting us with Sugar, Wedding Day and Take to the Sky. Her solid performance caliber, and less-than-no signs of aging are surely what keeps her fans enthralled for over 2 decades. Taking a beat after the show had ended, I looked around me to see people not yet exiting the theatre. It was necessary to take in all that just transpired on stage, it was an emotional, honest, loving expression of what keeps devoted fans connected and returning for more.

Review by Stefanie Romano | @stefaloves

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