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In Memory Of Violet's Husband, Kim Flint
1969 - 2010

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    Tour Status

    Tori is touring in 2017 to support the release of Native Invader. The European legs runs from early September through early October and the North American leg runs from late October to early December. We do not know if additional dates elsewhere will be added.

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    Native Invader (album, 2017)
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    Unrepentant Geraldines (album, 2014)

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    News: Pop Matters Concert Analysis (November 9-12, 2007)

    Posted by woj on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 | Reviews,Touring

    Matt Mazur, who interviewed Tori for Pop Matters over the summer, has written another piece for the same publication: a two-part essay discussing Tori’s portrayal of the Doll Posse during the concerts he saw on the tour, in particular the most overlooked member: Tori herself.

    The first part was published on November 9th while the second part hit the virtual magazine stand today, November 12th.

    Thanks to DMC for the link!


    Tori Amos

    18 October 2007: Palace Theater — Albany, NY

    In piece one of a two-part series, PopMatters’ Matt Mazur recounts a recent run-in with Tori Amos, analyzing her adventurous stage show and her many, many new personalities.

    by Matt Mazur

    This is not going to be your typical review of a concert. My perception is absolutely (perhaps unfairly) skewed because I was given the golden ticket—I won the Tori Amos lottery, so to speak. I interviewed the artist over the summer, and she happened to call while I was attempting to buy a ticket for myself online. Imagine the stress of ticket buying combined with the stress of anticipating a call from your hero, then stir in six cups of coffee, and you’ll get a good handle on how I was feeling that morning. In the interview, we covered a lot of ground—including how she doesn’t get to watch enough good films, but plans to after the tour (number one on her list: Ingmar Bergman!). Tori was then kind enough to invite me to see her shows, thereby alleviating some of my queasiness. And when Tori herself offers you a ticket, there’s no saying no.

    There is a popular misconception that Tori Amos is feminine beyond reproach. But Amos is not just a piano-playing, cooing type of gal. If you want to experience true performance-art makeover—a total re-invention of self-image—look no further than the artist’s current live venture, The American Doll Posse Tour. You’ll find the diminutive enchantress at her most fevered, backed by a virtual electrical storm of rock-and-roll sound and a set filled with twinkling star lights that highlight the dramatic arcs present in her work. On this tour, she’s even been known to step out from behind her Bosendorfer and rock the mic like a proper rock goddess.

    Live performance has always been one of Amos’ strengths, and that’s saying a lot. Just watching her hands slide up and down the keys of her piano is spellbinding, a reminder that, occasionally, an artist can possess talent unfathomable to most mortals. Pay attention to her masterful navigation of “Cornflake Girl’s” timeless bridge, and you’ll see what I mean. When it comes to tickling the ivories, her aptitude verges on the pornographic.

    What Amos asks her audience this time out is to take a bit of a risk with her, to make a full commitment to the concept. Amos is essentially asking her core base to suspend their disbelief, get over their preconceptions about women in rock and about her music in particular. A tall order, yes, but for Amos, it’s the beginning of a new age. Tori has made it known that this will be her last full-tilt concert outing for a few years, and she is hell-bent on giving the people her all.

    What she’s doing with the entire ADP project is challenging the way popular culture perceives women over the age of 40. She is re-defining what it means to be a relevant female artist “of a certain age. For Amos, it involves a maelstrom of guitars and a little bit of rubber.

    And yet, musical theater has never looked so slinky. The four characters of the Posse album and tour—all played by Amos—appear nightly alongside the character of “Tori”. Of the three shows I attended, I had the opportunity to catch the patriotic Isabel, the sylph-like Clyde, and, the most aggressive of the Posse, the rock star Pip.

    Stepping onstage as a character can be the end of people taking you seriously (Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines, anyone?), but Amos doesn’t go egotistically over the top with any of her multiple personalities. She’s not outrageously gauche like Liberace, or even Elton John. The performance of multiple personas isn’t an exercise in sparkly frivolity, nor is it (entirely) about Amos’ dedication to looking good in designer duds. As is the case with any Amos project, this one developed over a great deal of time, and the result is an alternate reality in which the heart is an organ of fire.

    It’s fascinating to see Tori being pushed out of her comfort zone, and she obviously loves every second of it—from smoking what looked like a giant joint as Isabel to screaming obscenities as Pip. This is a challenging experiment for an established artist who expects not only her fan base to come along for the ride, but also for her experiments to work in a new record-buying climate. Some might call it a gimmick, but it feels more like research. In fact, Amos is currently prepping a musical, and I have to wonder if she’s using this tour to pave the way for an appearance as an actress.

    So, first, let’s look at the character’s sets that I was privileged enough to catch:

    Isabel
    I honestly didn’t really see much of a difference between Tori’s movements and Isabel’s. Are these merely cosmetic differences? She was a tad more reserved and a little stiffer—but the subtleties are lost on me. Of course, keep in mind, that as a film reviewer, I may be more trained to be critical of the concepts of “performance” and acting than the average music fan. Tori is currently prepping a musical and the main thing I am wondering about that is if she is using this tour as an acting workshop to perhaps appear in the production as an actress?

    This is not to say she didn’t sound great (“Yo, George” was invigorated by the full band treatment), but there was a surprising lack of showmanship in the character’s recital. It is really interesting to see Tori being experimental on this level, though, and being pushed out of her comfort zone, and she is obviously loving every second of it, from the sashay of Isabel smoking what looked like a giant joint to Pip screaming obscenities. This is a challenging experiment for an established artist who expects her fan base to come along for the ride, with the record buying market changing so quickly. Some might call it a gimmick, but it feels more like research.

    Isabel, of course, does “Tori Amos” covers (as does the rest of the Posse). The old war horse “Sweet Dreams” bubbled along after the opener, while “In the Springtime of His Voodoo” sprang to wild life with a guitarist, drummer, and bassist—a treatment that hadn’t been afforded to the song since its inception.

    But I had trouble understanding why Isabel, the most politically strident of the posse, then started playing “Tubular Bells”, the theme song to The Exorcist. Where did this fit in with the character’s “political” motif? Did it simply serve as a clunky intro to the sparsely-arranged “Devils and Gods”, or was it there to show that Isabel (and Tori) can play as well as she can sing? With all of these mildly confusing “covers” leading into the main set, the big question for me became where was the other big Isabel song? “Dark Side of the Sun” is a strong album track that was being unfairly ignored.

    Pip
    It was shocking to hear the operatic high notes that end Tori’s ’98 song “Cruel” re-interpreted by this wholly unrecognizable, fierce slip of a girl in black rubber tights and blue silk, topped by a brunette shag. Tori as Pip was a definite immersion into character, one that she let loose with thunderous abandon—there was no sight of “Tori” at all during this portion of the show.

    Pip’s dangerous canon included the raucous “Teenage Hustling” and “Fat Slut”, as well as the delicate madness of “Smokey Joe”. Before leaving the stage, Pip crawled around on the floor, had a few f-word laced freak-outs, flipped the audience the bird, and gave a shot of her shiny backside.

    Aside from “Cruel”, Pip also gave her take on Amos’s “Bliss” and a dark-as-hell “Waitress”. Her growl was guttural and primal; this side of Amos hadn’t been seen since the ’98-’99 tour. Amos calls Pip her “warrior”: It’s truly a roller coaster to witness the usually proper singer leave her body and fully transform into a hellion. The image of Amos stepping out from behind the piano, both hands on the microphone, wailing as though her life depended on it, is one of the strongest I have seen her create. Pip represents the artist’s willingness to remake herself entirely.

    Clyde
    The sensitive gal of the bunch, Clyde sashayed out with a bizarre, almost kabuki-inflected sense of movement; her body language seemed to signal a life lived in secret. Graceful, elusive, and shy, Clyde hid her face behind a scarf for the first few minutes of her entrance, invoking a sense of mystery and delicacy.

    The songs during this set reflected Clyde’s American Doll Posse poetry: “Bouncing Off Clouds” was a rollicking opener that simmered and jammed for a solid three minutes while Clyde initiated the audience into her cult. The crowd was given a rare treat with the live debut of “Girl Disappearing”, a spare ballad that got the full-band treatment on stage. Matt Chamberlain’s drumming was subtle, while bassist Jon Evan used a bow on his upright to express the beautiful melancholy of the album version’s string quartet. It’s this sort of re-envisioning of album tracks that Tori’s fans all but live for, and this was a very exciting first appearance. “Beauty of Speed” remains one of the album’s best tracks and, despite its complicated musical structure, was pulled off flawlessly.

    Clyde’s Amos covers included a soaring version of the singer’s confessional “Little Earthquakes”, and a relatively sedate performance of To Venus and Back’s “Juarez”. Each of the Amos covers in Clyde’s set reflected some sort of elegiac take on violence against women, be it emotional, physical, or otherwise. It perhaps isn’t much of a stretch, then, for Tori to pull Clyde off so well: she’s been the interpreter for this character for many years.

    Check back Monday for part two of Matt Mazur’s Tori Amos character analysis and live review, featuring more characters and another slew of sets.

    — 9 November 2007


    Tori Amos

    18 October 2007: Orpheum Theate — Boston, MA

    In part two of Matt Mazur’s epic tour portrait, the author analyzes Tori Amos’ most complex character: “Tori Amos”.

    Each character on the American Doll Posse tour is an extension of Tori Amos, and “Tori Amos” is also a character. (Confused yet? Imagine how her husband must feel.) As she does for every show, “Tori” appeared for the majority of each of the performances I attended. As usual, she brought unparalleled energy and the singular brand of showmanship that armies of bottle-blonde pop-tarts the world over sit up nights coveting.

    Tori: After a winning band re-hash of “Professional Widow”, “Tori” came out to the pulsing strains of “Big Wheel”. Dressed in a multicolored, sequin-covered jumpsuit, green open-toed pumps (gotta report on my girl’s hot shoes!), and a bright orange “Tori” wig, Amos made clear that she was, in fact, playing a character. It’s an odd bit of distance that the artist has thrown into the show, especially when you consider that the majority of her career has been built on making a personal connection with fans who (perhaps unfairly) insist on total access to her personal life.

    Many of these fans are similarly grousing about the artist’s glam re-envisioning. But when you’ve made a name selling a certain image to people who then, understandably, expect that they’ll always get “Tori” and her life experiences, you can expect some grumbling. This is where I think the genius of Amos’s “character” comes into play. By appearing as “Tori”, Amos is able to not only separate her different facets into a Posse, but also to separate her private life from her public persona: It goes deeper than just throwing on a wig and some rubber.

    Tori’s set lists are typically thoughtful and all-encompassing (and really solid), pulling from hundreds of songs, but she has a habit of stacking staples at the end (“Precious Things”, “God”, and “Hey Jupiter” are generally found in the encores). It would be great to see her audience rewarded with a surprise or two at the end, instead of being able to predict the precise moment at which they can beat the crowd to the exits or the merchandise stand.

    The best portion of the Albany set came after T & Bo (i.e., “Tori and her Bosendorfer”, the solo piano section of the show), with the trifecta of the brilliant “Virginia” (off of Scarlet’s Walk), “God” (from Under the Pink), and an explosive “Code Red” (a new American Doll Posse tune). Live, the last track assimilates you like the Borg. She played it at all three shows, and it just got better and better. The same was true of “Big Wheel”, the breezy romp in which Tori declares herself a “MILF”.

    These tracks cooked with the help of new addition Dan Phelps, guitarist extraordinaire. Tori hasn’t toured with a guitarist since ’99, despite the fact that most of her albums since then have featured extensive guitar work. It’s a particularly nice touch to hear some of the Scarlet tracks with the extra layer. Thanks to Phelps and the rest of the band, From the Choirgirl Hotel’s “Black Dove (January)” was thunderous and bold, while The Beekeeper’s “Mother Revolution” was brought to full, bloody glory with bassist Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain accompanying Tori’s haunting, elegant organ work.

    Boston brought out some more of Tori’s heavy hitters, including “A Sorta Fairytale”, “Hotel”, and the best version of “Space Dog” I have ever seen. In the latter, she began with a whispery verse over her organ and ended with a triumphantly engineered bridge and booming crescendo. It is perhaps Amos’ best song, and with each passing year, it gets better and better without losing one ounce of its potency and punch.

    On both nights in Boston, the energy was palpable—Tori and the guys were clearly eating up the participant adoration. The kids had plenty to spare: people were dancing and jiving. Even Miss Massachusetts was in attendance, wearing her sash. I’ve been to innumerable Tori shows in my past, but these two had a special feeling absent from any other.

    A singularly “Tori” phenomenon that has gone on for years, even at her solo piano shows, is the rushing of the stage at the end of the main set. It’s the same people, without fail, who run down to stand front and center every time. There is pushing, kicking, and other assorted physical and verbal abuse as well as a sea of flash photography. This is all done with the apparent blessing of Tori’s management, but it is a major, major distraction for the casual fan. Perhaps there’s another reason for the running this time around. Sadly, this tour had a “farewell” vibe—all of her singles are getting regular play, and, so far on the US leg, there haven’t been any gigantic surprises. But it seems that, with the advent of Tori’s latest venture, Legs & Boots, which gives fans the opportunity to buy MP3s of the shows mere hours after they end (complete with set list scans, artwork, and sound-checked songs), the tide may still turn.

    But, since this very well might be the end of the story for awhile, Amos has decided to work overtime. For those familiar with her already stone-solid work ethic, this is an audacious prospect. Aside from just performing, doing press, and doing regular meet-and-greets with her peeps, Tori has also acquiesced to doing “VIP” mixers before every show. For the price of $150—which includes a seat in the first ten rows and a “Posse” gift bag—fans can interact even more with the singer-songwriter. Also included is a peek at her sound check. Amos has gained a reputation for being an artist whose fan base follows her everywhere, and she’s made an alternately shrewd or generous, depending on your perspective, move with these mixers. What is most interesting about this business end of things is that Amos seems to take it all in stride, never letting the stress or ugliness get to her. This extension of her role as an artist, along with the tour as a whole, make for a lesson in not pigeonholing women over 40. Amos is ready to play several roles, but none are conventional. Yes, she may be a mother, but that doesn’t mean she can’t scream her head off like a banshee and creep around on the floor. In our culture, we seem often to celebrate vapid young women who behave badly for no reason, which is why Tori (who has a cadre of good reasons) needs to be given more props for truly pushing the envelope.

    While it is depressing for those of us who have followed her for years to hear her talk about the end of touring as we know it, this new phase holds many exciting prospects for Amos’s growth as an artist. All we can do is, in unison, wish Tori the best in her next venture. Enjoy your respite, Tori: you more than deserve a little R&R. Get some snacks, veg out, and watch some movies!

    — 12 November 2007