Tori Amos With Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou AT&T Performing Arts Center Tuesday, July 29, 2014
With local singer/songwriter (and admitted Tori Amos worshipper) Jessie Frye in tow, I made my way into the hoity confines of the AT&T Performing Arts Center on Tuesday evening to catch the flamboyant theatrics of Tori Amos. Bringing along an Amos expert like Frye was my ace in the hole.
You see, I've never been a big fan of Tori Amos. In college, several former girlfriends assaulted me with Amos' music on a daily basis. Amos was their feminist hero, a poetic, bombastic, immensely talented musician who I really didn't care for. In fact, her music kind of annoyed me. I remember sitting in a bar back in the early 90's with John Reznik of the Goo Goo Dolls and since Amos' debut album Little Earthquakes was all the rage, I asked Reznik what he thought of her. "She's so pathetic that she ought to marry a Kennedy," was his response.
So being a relative Amos novice, I was joyful to have a true fan sitting next to me. Frye not only knew each song word for word, she treated each one like a new and different religious experience. And so did the crowd. The show was more like an evangelical revival with many fans crying and moaning as each song began. To these people, Amos' songs are mini soundtracks to their lives. In all my years, I have never seen such a crowd response.
Dressed in what looked like a studded bathrobe tossed out from Graceland, Amos was the consummate performer. For two hours, she held these peoples' emotions in her hands. Beginning with "Parasol" and ending with "Hey Jupiter," Amos took the audience on a journey through her entire career. Playing only two songs from her latest album Unrepentant Geraldines, Amos concentrated on playing requests sent to her via Facebook. Highlights included "Another Girl's Paradise," "Sweet Sting," "Snow Cherries From France" and "Winter."
But honestly, there wasn't a bum track in the bunch. Overwrought on occasion, the songs still carried a literate weight and a faith in the power of imagery. Opening the encore with "Take to the Sky," Amos used her piano as a percussion instrument, hitting the fall board in order to set the beat and punctuate the song's message of emotional freedom.
As I watched Frye and the 2,000 or so people that packed the AT&T Performing Arts Center, I was taken aback by the transforming effect that music can have on the true fan. Hell, I am still not the biggest fan of Tori Amos, but that woman can sure engross an audience. It's as if she's written a novel based on their lives. Amos has made a mystical connection that goes beyond the common relationship between artist and admirer.
Afterwards, Jessie and I were two of the 10 people who got to go backstage and meet Amos. More often than not, these meet-and-greet sessions are nothing more than a quick (sometimes begrudging) autograph session. But like everything else on this evening, this was different. Frye told Amos that it was because of her that she became a musician. Frye gave Amos a copy of her own CD and Amos promised to listen to it on the trip to Austin. Amos took Frye aside and gave her advice on how to win over an audience. I stood there, stunned, while Amos instructed Frye.
"You go on stage and you fucking kill it," said Amos. "I know I'm going to be hearing about you. I've done this a long time, honey, and you're a superstar. I truly cannot wait to listen to your CD."
As I walked away from the venue, I thought about all of the shows that I have seen, all of the music that I have heard and all of the drunken debauchery that I have witnessed. Yet, I have never seen a fan connect with her idol as Frye did with Tori Amos. OK, now I am a big fan. Excuse me for having feelings.