A few months back I went with a good friend of mine to see Tori Amos perform at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. I have never seen her perform before, not even in a video, so I was shocked at what the night turned out to be. I had heard all about how she has sex with her piano bench and channels the devil, etc. etc… Those things are true and good and right and she totally lived up to her sensationalist reputation. But is makes me sad that this is what people walk away with when they see her play. That “she grinds her piano bench” is what they see.
I saw something very different. I saw a wild woman who has no control over her actions and complete control of everything else. I saw a little girl so freaked out that she withdrew into a woman who can only express her pain through lyrics that fuck you up with awkwardness and horror and humor and bizarre imagery. I see a brilliant talent, misunderstood like most brilliant talents.
Tori is one of the most fascinating artists I have ever seen with my own eyes. I still can’t understand how she can pedal two different melody’s with dueling piano, pound on the keys to one with her left hand and tinkle the keys on the other with her right hand. And she’s playing ALONE and it sounds like there are fifty musicians on stage with her. It seemed like the bassist and drummer barely played and when they did it was clear that they knew to stay out of the way. I wouldn’t ever try to get involved. I give them credit and it was clear that she did too.
I have never seen anything like it in my life. I couldn’t take me eyes off of her. I couldn’t get my jaw off the ground. I was in tears. I was in awe. I was inspired. I was totally intimidated. I was totally freaked out. It’s why I love music. It’s what music is about. ugh. Amazing.
She hasn’t had a radio hit in a while, but her fans are hardcore and I can see why – she will most likely always be able to tour and make money playing. And good for her. It’s a total shame that she’s not changing the direction of music and radio independently. At least she’s staying true to herself and making you want to die from the addictive uncomfortability at her shows. That’s who she is – at least on stage anyway. I get the feeling that in person she can barely even speak. She seems painfully shy, until she’s onstage and then she’s painfully in control of everything.
She’s rad. Go see her. Don’t spend a dime on another show unless you have enough left over to see her when she comes to a theater near you. Everyone should experience that kind of raw passion and talent at least once a year or so. Very few people in this world have it. So it makes sense to revel in the ones that do. Revel in it. areciate it. Even if you don’t like her music, at least bow down to her ability to play it.
Thanks to my friend Katie for dragging me out. I wasn’t really looking forward to it other than just to get out of the house and go see music with my friend. Now I’ll be at every Tori Amos show I can make when she’s in town.