His-Tori made at NTELOS
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Sitting in the stands at a Tori Amos concert, you don’t just hear her voice wafting through the air, mixed with the piercing notes of the pianos she’s turned into a musical art exhibition.
You don’t just see the auburn-haired beauty steaming around the stage, waving to the crowd, hammering away at the ivory-studded instruments.
It’s more than that. You feel it. You feel the power, the emotion she exudes through her music. Tori’s energy is an aura, one that anyone nearby can sense, and feel themselves.
Email newsletter signup
It’s a full-blown adrenaline rush.
After taking up the piano at the young age of 2, Tori went on to become the youngest student to attend the Peabody Institute at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, where she began studying classical piano at 6. After finishing high school in 1981, she headed to the West Coast and joined a hard rock band called Y Kant Tori Read. After the band’s first album flopped, Tori continued on her own, signing with Atlantic Records and putting out her first solo album, &uot;Little Earthquakes&uot; in 1992.
It went double platinum, and became one of a line of successful albums, culminating with her ninth offering, 2005’s &uot;Beekeeper.&uot; Her radical, rebellious, often daring lyrics, combined with her passionate piano-playing techniques have made her one of the music world’s most well-known figures.
On Sunday evening, I headed to the NTELOS Harbor Center to check out the latest leg of the Newton, N.C. native’s &uot;Original Sinsuality&uot; tour – and as I write this on Monday afternoon, I still haven’t quite come down from the rush. Let me try to share
it through my words.
Just before 9 p.m., the stage goes dark, and the thousands in attendance stand up and cheer. Then the guest of honor appears, actually running out from backstage.
She sits down, and the music starts. Tori slides to the end of the piano bench. She’s looking at the crowd. Then she’s looking straight up at the ceiling, still pounding the white and black keys like a machine gun.
The piano becomes almost irrelevant. You forget it’s even there. It’s as if the music’s flowing right out of Tori’s body. You can feel the power it holds inside her, something that she can’t wait to give the audience. And as she goes through the last notes of
&uot;Original Sinsuality,&uot; you realize that you can’t wait to experience it along with her.
Things settle down a bit, as Tori plows through other tracks from &uot;Beekeeper,&uot; such as &uot;Martha’s Foolish Ginger,&uot; and &uot;The Power of Orange Knickers.&uot; Songs from her past works like &uot;Taxi Driver,&uot; and &uot;White Noise,&uot; pour forth. There’s three pianos and an organ on the stage, and she works all of them, sometimes two at the same time (her playing two at once with one hand behind her back has to be seen to be believed).
Suddenly, the music stops for a moment. On the small television-like device in the upper-right corner of the stage appears a message that its time for &uot;Tori’s Piano Bar,&uot; a special part of her shows where the audience steps even closer into the action. She’s got a few requests from her fans, sent by mail or e-mail. According to an Amos-dedicated Web site, hereinmyhead.com, some of her past cover songs have included George Michael’s &uot;Father Figure,&uot; Bon Jovi’s &uot;Living on a Prayer,&uot; and AC/DC’s &uot;You Shook Me All Night Long.&uot;
Amos flips through the papers on which the queries are written. Then she stops.
&uot;I’ve never done this song before in my life,&uot; she says, sounding surprised. &uot;I think it’s ludicrous.&uot;
She doesn’t say what it is, but the notes begin, and the lyrics follow a few moments later.
&uot;Young man, there’s no need to feel down,&uot; she sings. &uot;Young man pick yourself off the ground. Young man, ’cause you’re in a new town, there’s no need to be unhappy.&uot;
Know what it was yet? The crowd certainly did. Seconds later, hundreds of people were &uot;YMCA-ing&uot; their way around the Pavilion.
But the trip down memory lane isn’t quite finished – after this, Amos does her own version of the Eagles’ &uot;Desperado.&uot;
After the title track of &uot;Beekeeper,&uot; Tori stands up, does a double-hand wave to the crowd, and rushes off, much like she did when the show began. But fans up front rush toward the stage, and everyone knows that the show’s not over.
We’re right – just a few minutes later, the lights come back and Tori hauls back out of backstage, ready for an encore. The crowd keeps cheering, and no one up front sits down.
That’s when I realized it; as much as I’d enjoyed the show, there was one thing missing – the song that, in my mind, truly put Tori on the music world map. A single from &uot;Earthquakes,&uot; &uot;Silent All These Years,&uot; has been one of my favorite tunes for over a decade. Perhaps Tori would send everyone home with her classic song.
Well, it doesn’t seem to be. She goes through a few slower, sadder songs, ending with &uot;Merman,&uot; dedicated to Matthew Shepard, the gay teenager beaten to death in 1998.
But after the song ends, Tori still doesn’t move. Perhaps the energy she’s been extolling for the past two hours has drained her.
Nope. After a few seconds, one more set of notes drifts through the air. Moments later, almost everyone’s standing – and I admit, I’m up too. Out come the lyrics: &uot;Excuse me but can I be you for a while, my dog won’t bite if you sit real still. I got the anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin’ at me again.&uot;
This is it. This is the &uot;oldie&uot; that will never get old. This is &uot;Silent,&uot; and it gets the most crowd noise of the night. As the song goes on, everyone’s singing.
&uot;But what if I’m a mermaid in these jeans of his with her name still on it, hey but I don’t care, ’cause sometimes, I said sometimes, I hear my voice, and it’s been here, silent all these years.&uot;
But for one night, everyone there could hear perfectly – and couldn’t get enough.