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Tuesday, 30 October 2012


You and I will never have to go through this again,
We watch it all crumble to the sea.
We count the colours in your head,
Which one is he?
And some illusions break
While some cling to the lie;
Some are purged by the ache,
Then something dies.

All this time you waste crawling back in;
The hardest thing to shatter,
Willingness to give.

You and I don't need this safety net,
We’ve got our feel flat on the ground.
We count the colours in your head,
You think one is me?
The harder you try to push
The more you see the smile;
Some are cleansed through the pain,
Then something dies.

All this time you waste crawling back in;
The hardest thing to shatter,
Willingness to give.
The greed gets cold, and the teeth start to bite;
The easiest thing to smother,
My only light

I settle into you in every wrong way;
Blinkered and poisoned, clinging to the day.
Watching from a distance, see you hiding in the grey;
Under lock and key, put the selfishness away.

All this time you waste crawling back in;
The hardest thing to shatter,
Willingness to give.

But you and I will never sift through this again,
We can wait to believe.
We can count the colours in your head,
Which one is she?

And some illusions break
While some cling to the cry;
Some are purged by the pain,
Then something survives.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


I have lost track of the amount of times I've actually seen Tori Amos, but the experience has never been less than magical, and is more often better described as very intense and beautiful.  Tori's unfaltering track record for live performance deems a lengthy review almost unnecessary (fans who hadn't seen her before won't be let down, and fans who have know just how good she is).  I must say, though, tonight's show at the Royal Albert Hall was, at points, closer to a word I have not used to describe her shows before: Majestic.

First, a major disappointment, but not with her.  We arrived before 3.00 in the afternoon and excitedly got in line for the Meet and Greet; I was most happy that I was to get my first and only copy of Little Earthquakes signed on the year of its 20th anniversary!  Having been confirmed to definitley be seeing her and a cut-off point being decided upon, we were most disappointed and frustrated when another guy came out and drew a clearly arbitrary line on the floor in front of us (not literally, of course) and advised us that beyond this point, people would not see her due to her soundcheck.  This might have been acceptable if it had been worked out with any sort of policed system, or had left more than a pitiful ten people disappointed.  Very bitter.

Gold Dust, an album of her material re-worked with orchestra arrangements works on more than that one level; not only is it interesting to hear these pieces, some of which are classics, bolstered by classical instrumentation, but much like Joni Mitchell's Travelogue, it also gives her, and her audience, an opportunity to reflect on the themes of the songs, the meanings, and to hear them differently years and years later; a chance to consider how they have changed, for both us, and her.  Tonight, we hear the whole record presented in full.  We kick off, however, with a B-side track not actually on the album, Flying Dutchman, and within the first two lines she has "fucked it up again", as she so eloquantly announces.  To some, this may seem to be a bad sign, but to the hardcore Tori fan this is par for the course, and as always, is followed by some joking on Tori's part, some healthy laughter, and then the song has begun again.  That is the only (notable) error for the night; from there on it is smooth sailing.

Yes, on a personal level, there are a few down moments; Snow Cherries From France, Jackie's Strength, and Girl Disappearing, whilst perfectly performed, lack a certain something.  Or perhaps this is just a reflection of my own taste; I have never been that in love with these songs.  A quick look at the set (below), however, illustrates just how much that leaves to be described as gorgeous.  In the past we have seen her give very intense, raw performances; performances that seem to reach in and tear you to pieces.  Tonight is not, for the most part, one of those nights; the orchestra bring something to the songs that makes them less imposing somehow.  The arrangements are written by John Philip Shenale, who actually worked on Yes, Anastasia the first time round, and the grandiosity, whilst removing that raw edge, and removing Tori's ability to improvise and play around with things in the way she often does, also transforms the songs.  Some may not be so keen on the accompaniment, but to me it is like seeing your partner with a different hairstyle, make-up and a dress you have never seen her in before; she is not less attractive, just notably different.  Even the aformentioned Yes, Anastasia, with its already familiar arrangement, has been edited, shifted about, and has had its urgency turned up.  "We'll see how brave you are, we'll see how fast you've been running" remains as powerful a refrain and mission statement as it ever was.

Cloud On My Tongue, with its building vortex of strings, sucks you in to the song anew, and along with Baker Baker, Marianne, Silent All These Years, Winter, Flavor, and the mighty Gold Dust, is delivered with tender beauty and that majesty I mentioned.  In all cases the story driving the song is recalled, replayed in our head, and even re-assessed up to twenty years on!

Tori doesn't say much, except to address her daughter, who is here tonight with school friends, all dressed in red school uniform.  The sweet moment is followed by the sweeter Ribbons Undone, the one song performed solo tonight, and, to those of us who understand, the sentiment of the piece has never been more moving.

We see the evening out with an unusual, yet surprisingly powerful Our New Year.  Tori has been quiet, but is clearly on top of the world right now.  Tonight has not been the most intense performance I have seen from her, but it has been a tremendous set list, and she remains bold, proving herself once again to be an artist not happy with being static, treading water.  She will continue to push herself, with the promise of her musical in London next year, and an album already in the works for 2014.  Yes, despite dropping off the general public's radar about fifteen years ago, we see tonight a woman who is her generation's Joni Mitchell, a woman who doesn't need Cornflake Girl or a dancefloor filling remix of Professional Widow, who lives for what she does, and while she is doing it, I for one will be listening.

Gold Dust is out now.

Royal Albert Hall, 3rd October, 2012