-by Tom Munday
Tori Amos, Tuesday 18 November, Riverside Theatre
Supported by: Matt Walters
Most of the time, a musician and the venues they play in fit together flawlessly. Perth, a mix of bars, music clubs, and major venues (Perth Arena etc.), delivers enough resources to house some of best and brightest local, national, and international acts. The Riverside Theatre – known primarily as the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre – is one of WA’s most elaborate and immaculate venues. In fact, the prestigious venue is fit for music royalty. So, why am I bringing this topic up? Well, as of Tuesday 18th , 2014, the place belongs to well-renowned singer/songwriter Tori Amos.
Coming off 14th , and latest, Album Unrepentant Geraldines’ hugely successful release, the American lounge performer saw fit to continue her spectacular year. Her latest Australian tour, part of an 80-performance/globe-spanning experience, strives to honour her wide-ranging, awe-inspired fan base. Amos, given one of WA’s most expansive venues, Perth welcomed the siren-like musician with open with open arms. As the clock ticked down towards 8pm, the ambiance steadily increased in decibels and alarming comments. Falling just short of eavesdropping, this critic heard several opinions about Amos’ ever-lasting career, looks, and talents. With all this in mind, my expectations increased exponentially over just a few minutes.
The crowd, made up primarily of cute couples, dinner-and-a-show groups, and tough chicks, created a sea of red hair and frenzied conversations. With each passing minute, ushers run rampant setting people down and keeping the excitement contained within the theatre’s space. The stage was set, with a zigzag curtain backdrop and Amos’ grand piano setting the scene. A difficult job, for sure. Thankfully (for them), supporting act Matt Walters took over their role. Shuffling onto the stage, the young blues-roots singer/songwriter had a dropped-into-a-shark-tank look across his face. Tuning his guitar nervously, the musician’s humble aura and relatable composure became admirable traits. Diving straight into his opening track, Talking in My Sleep, Walters’ mesmerising and earthy vocals stunned everyone into silence.
Murmuring between songs, the young performer overcame his nerves with modesty and likeability. Delving into fresh hit Hard Luck, the song displayed his immense talents and soothing charms. Featuring powerful lyrics and echo-like vocals, Walters connected with the Amos-hungry audience. Telling us about himself, the Melbourne-born musician riffed on his style and several heckling crowd members. Donning wavy, blonde hair and black, casual clothes, the impressionable youngster was polite but never irritatingly so. Hitting us with St. Peter’s Gate, Julianne, and Melbourne Goodbye solidified his significant range and magnetic guitar riffs. Finishing with Build A Place, about falling in love with an architect, the crowd fell in love with this intelligent up-and-comer.
As the clock struck 9pm, the crowd’s impatience threatened to tare the event apart. The crowd’s enthusiasm, reaching breaking point, promised the year’s most electrifying and memorable Perth concert of 2014. As the moment arrived, the crowd went berserk, almost as if the Second Coming has finally arrived. As the lights dimmed, a siren-like figure waltzed into view. Amos, dressed in a flowing red-and-black dress, glided towards her set-up before bowing and making herself comfortable. Adjusting to her elaborate piano-and-keyboard set-up immediately, the 51-year-old performer established her significant reputation. Delving immediately into smash hit Parasol, Amos’ crystal-clear vocals stunned everyone.
Throughout the performance, her touching and transcendent harmonies turned enthused audience members to mush. With cheers and sobs echoing throughout the arena, the hit performer solidified her immense acclaim. Her violent, digging-into-the-piano style pulled us into her gorgeous universe. Dedicating the performance to her rebid fan base, she launched into a potent mix of latest and greatest hits. Delivering 5-10 minute versions of her most famous tracks, Amos displayed her immense charm and engaging persona. Splayed across her seat, her brave choices – including playing the piano and keyboard simultaneously – her unique performance style is worth the ticket price. Heightened thanks to her pristine accent, her renditions of Doughnut Song and Carbon tugged the heartstrings.
Despite the overwhelming positives, a handful of issues cropped up throughout. As Amos switched between instruments and microphones, the sound dropped out. Taking us out of the experience, her technique came with several small obstacles. Despite these issues, her haunting stories, bursts of energy, ethereal beauty, and lively renditions made up for them. Her stage presence, making a visceral and tangible experience, drew everyone into her existence. Matching each lighting composition beat for beat, her renditions of Liquid Diamonds and Silent All These Years echoed longingly across the theatre. Delving into love, spirituality, loss, and degradation, Siren and Sister Janet constructed a window into her mind-blowing world
Sticking to the set list, the fiery, red-haired mega-star refused to continually interact with the manic crowd. Flowing seamlessly between songs, her raw talent and sheer professionalism guided her throughout. As the embodiment of modern femininity, her grace, elegance, and vigour created an atmospheric and unforgettable aura. Her second half, diving headlong into Marianne, Snow Cherries from France, and Oysters, took her audience on an emotionally resonant and multi-layered journey. Outlining her most requested songs, the artist dedicated the performance to her loyal fans.
Swaying longingly, Amos threw herself into each spirited rendition. Switching from lounge to acoustic with I’m On Fire, each lyric, note, and movement added to the experience. Elevating the tempo, Sleeps with Butterflies, Taxi Ride, and Little Earthquakes were performed with nuance and skill. Guided by silky and eclectic keyboard jaunts, the performance ended with Apollo’s Frock and Precious things. Receiving a standing ovation, she gave her loving crowd some more to chew on. Met with a sea of fans and camera-phones at the stage-front, she picked from the adoring audience’s requests. Delivering heart renditions of Cornflake Girl, 16 Shades of Blue, and Sugar, Amos rewarded her immense fan base. As the crowd dispersed, her aura faded into the chilly night’s sky. That night, Amos illuminated the City of Lights.
All photos by Matthew Picken