Tori Amos (w/ Thomas Dybdahl ) 12/18/11
Orpheum Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
There is the famous line in Pulp Fiction when Jules shares with Vincent that his gal is a vegetarian so that pretty much makes him a vegetarian. If you replace the word vegetarian with Tori Amos fan, you now know why you are reading this review. This weekend was my 11th and 12th all expense paid trip to Toriland. I have nothing but respect for Tori Amos, but if my wife and I ever broke up, I would no doubt hate her as I can’t even describe how many hours of my life have been spent being forced to listen to her music. With the last Tori experience leaving a less than stellar taste in my mouth (Greek Theatre Los Angeles – July 2009) I had hoped by agreeing to commit to two nights long before Goldenvoice announced some killer punk shows out in Santa Monica that I had not made the wrong choice.
The opener for both nights was a gentleman named Thomas Dybdahl. Mr. Dybdahl was not terrible, but I found myself each night preferring his stage banter over his songs. While he did have help from someone on what appeared to be a Weissenborn, when it’s just you and a guitar you need to be really something special. Having seen many of these types open for Amos over the years, Dybdahl was far from memorable. Nothing against him and his music, I just would have preferred someone a bit more dynamic.
As we reported in our recap of night one, Amos knew it was Saturday night in Los Angeles and rocked the historic vaudeville theatre hard. I assumed Sunday night would be much mellow and where I was correct not even I could imagine what she had up her sleeve.
The evening started the exact same way as night one. Apollon Musagète kicked the set off with their stringed madness before Tori joined in on the fun with “Shattering Sea.” After rocking “God/Running Up That Hill” and “Suede” for the second consecutive night, things began to get very interesting. It took my wife almost two minutes to place the rare Little Earthquakes B-side “Ode To The Banana King” and I am pretty sure I had never heard this song before. With the mood now set that anything could happen, it was clear we were in for a once in a lifetime show.
Where Saturday had the “hits” Sunday was all about making a message with the music. “Fearlessness and “Maybe California” sounded great with the strings. As far as the new material from her album Night of Huters goes, the best song I saw over these two nights was Star Whisperer. On a structural level, it reminded me a lot of my favorite band Phish. The tempo changes and song within a song feel had me craving some parking lot grilled cheese and a good old fashion wook bust.
As great as the strings are, the highlights of the night was when Amos was alone with her piano. If “Ode To The Banana King” wasn’t a big enough treat we were fortunate enough to hear solo takes on the rare gems “Sister Janet” and performed for only the fifth time “Apollo’s Frock.” That however was just the tip of the ice berg.
With a fat drunk cow screaming at the top of her lungs a few rows in front of us (as I mentioned in the Saturday recap, these shows had some of the rudest Tori fans I have ever encountered) Tori warned us to brace ourselves. It was then that for the first time ever that she busted out the Y Kant Tori Read track “On The Boundary.” No joke, when folks tweeting the setlist for the incredible fan run website Undented, many thought it was a practical joke. But as you can see below, it was no joke as Amos reworked the number into a beautiful haunting song that hit me deep in my soul.
Even when not busting out rare gems, Amos was kicking all kinds of backside. “Leather” sounded great and it’s always fun when Tori grabs her ass up on stage. I was most impressed with the re-working of “Hey Jupiter.” Typically if Amos is the change a songs tempo, it’s for the slower. With the quartet behind her, “Hey Jupiter” had a much jazzier upbeat feel. Dare I say I enjoy the re-worked version better than the original?
The show closed with a lengthy encore that went a few minutes past the venues 11pm curfew. Some of the better points of the encore were the holiday flavored “Holly, Ivy and Rose” and one of my favorite Amos rockers “Big Wheel.”
In closing, while I was bummed I had agreed to do the right thing and be a good husband I am glad I did. Both shows were some of the best I have ever seen Tori perform. From a rocking night one to a once in a lifetime performance on night two, seeing Amos recreate her classics with a string quartet was truly special. If she brings this tour back to the states in 2012, there will be no doubt that I will be back for yet another round.