Tori Amos-Orpheum Theater-Omaha Nebraska July 15th, 2023
I am a very latecomer to Tori Amos. As a young record store snot at the age of 19, when Amos came to prominence, I had also just discovered the world of Kate Bush and had fallen hard with much wonderment. Also, being that I needed people to hear my opinions loudly, I often would rant about Tori Amos just being a Kate Bush wannabe. 30 years later and still in the record store, a new generation of co-workers around the age of 19 are discovering music from the late 80’s and early 90’s, and I have again been exposed to Tori Amos. This time, I quite enjoyed it. To the point that I started buying a few of her albums, including the latest Ocean to Ocean, which I also enjoy, especially the title track.
I found this show to be fascinating for a lot of reasons. I am a set list watcher. I go look at setlists ahead of time so I know what I am in for. Many artists play the same songs in the same order every night on a tour. Some will swap out the order of songs. Some will swap a song in and out. Amos has a few key songs on this tour, but her setlists are wildly erratic. They are also devoid of songs that my new-to-Tori self would consider hits. It looked as if “Cornflake Girl” is done most nights, and then maybe one other “hit”, and she really spreads those out over the tour. I find shows like this to be very exciting, interesting, and the artists performances often seem to come across as a notch above the rest when these types of setlists are in play. That is exactly what was delivered last night.
Now, the lack of “hits” certainly did not mean a lack of songs the fans wanted to hear. Her going for deep cuts or hard-core fan favorites certainly seemed to thrill much of the audience. For me, it was refreshing, as I really did not go into this with any favorites. I wanted to hear the title track off of “Ocean To Ocean”, and did, and for me, it was the highlight of the night. She also did not just focus on new material; she performed songs from her entire catalog. Tonight, she also performed three songs from 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.
Her performance was thrilling from start to finish. It was her, a bass player that I could not see from my seat, and a drummer/percussionist. Amos sat in the middle of a piano facing one way and some keyboards facing the other. She also had another keyboard on top of her piano. Many times she would straddle whatever she was sitting on (covered by her long, flowing outfit) and face the audience while playing both. Watching her contort to play was fascinating, but it was her dramatic playing style that really got inside of me. It’s not over the top, but just enough to really thrill and affect. I could have just listened to her play piano all night, and thankfully (and you will rarely hear me say this), she drew out the songs to include a lot of piano performance. Her vocals and inflections in her songs were perfect; that room sounded amazing last night. There were many moments in the night where I just got swept up in the songs and especially her delivery of the songs to a point well beyond my expectations heading into this show. I was very much cemented into fandom last night.
She was charming, engaged with the audience, and seemed to genuinely appreciate where she is in her career and her relationship with her fans. At one point she talked about how the next ‘many songs’ ‘ would be requests, and my heart dropped, as having a bunch of rabid fans shout songs for ‘Many songs’ ‘ in that environment sounded like a horrible idea. Nothing like that happened. Maybe there was some sort of secret ballot or something that fans voted on ahead of time. Our “hit song” for Omaha was “Caught A Light Sneeze,” the first single off of the 1996 album Boys For Pele.
She closed out the show with “Cornflake Girl” and “Take To The Sky” (which is an added track to the deluxe edition of “Little Earthquakes”—a deep cut indeed). She interpolated a bit of Carole King and James Taylor’s “I Feel The Earth Move” into that final performance. This show made me want to dig much deeper into her catalog, as I feel like I am still missing out on much.
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