Tori Amos at Royal Albert Hall
Tonight’s performance sees Irish pop rockers Bell X1 setting off the show with an unplugged set of gentle anthemic rock, complemented by the golden shafts of light drifting from above the stage. The Upswing, taken from 2016 album Arms, is a measured tune, with vocalist Paul Noonan’s voice crooning gently, the guitars bobbing along on the wave of the melody. Velcro is a more buoyant effort, while Take Your Sweet Time is beatific in its plaintiveness. Rocky Took a Lover dips into upbeat territories, followed by Built to Last and The End Is Nigh, displaying the band’s strength in producing graceful elegiac songs.
After the concert break, legendary American musician Tori Amos walks across the stage, seating herself between a Bösendorfer piano and Nord keyboard, the emblazoned forest backdrop glowing bright orange.
Marking the set with the dark heady beats of Iieee, her presence is immediately sensed. Little Earthquakes, from the 1992 record of the same name, presents Amos’s ability to sing stories of mythical beings and integrate them with a naturalistic element. Pancake follows, as she whisks between piano and keyboard, her passions radiating, truly in her element. There is angst in her voice that has placed her amongst the very best on the spectrum of female musicians; her baroque-style pop has a clear likeness to Kate Bush.
Cloud on My Tongue is again brooding and mysterious, with little bursts of lightness. She acknowledges the darkness of her music by reflecting on a birthday party she sang at with friend and author Neil Gaiman. Beauty Queen/Horses, Josephine and Russia are quite similar, which sometimes makes it challenging to differentiate, though this is broken up by her unique take on cover tracks, beneath a backdrop upon which is written Fake Muse Network. Her choices tonight range from Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac with elements of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ to Joni Mitchell’s River, exhibiting her classically trained skills. Reindeer King, taken from new album Native Invader, is filled with the mystery and passion of her back catalogue, whilst Ruby Through the Looking Glass and encore number A Sorta Fairytale reflect the other-worldly quality of her songwriting, with whimsical notes dotted intermittently.
The audience’s raucous applause coupled with the stunning lighting and her enigmatic voice makes one realise what an iconic musician she is. Though Amos presents a carefully crafted set with an array of tracks from her previous albums, it would have benefited if there were additional instruments. However, she is most recognised for her simplistic ballad style, and it was a mesmerising and commendable performance from one of alternative pop music’s legends.
Photo: Claudio Marinangeli
For further information and future events visit the Tori Amos website here.
Listen to Reindeer King here: