Tori and I are Getting Old... But We're Still Hot.
I went to my 15th Tori Amos concert last night. I still remember the high school days of camping outside of Tower records at 7am on a Saturday morning to get tickets to the her shows, or that time I drove 3 hours in the snow to see her play in Boston on my 21st birthday. And then there was the time we got up at 6am to see her do a show in Central Park for Good Morning America. I even endured a full Alanis Morrissette concert in Vegas to see Tori play second in a double bill. Or there was that time in 1996 I stood in the rain for 2 hours in my L.L. Bean jacket waiting for her to sign autographs and take photos after the show.
Flash forward to now, 14 years after the first show I ever attended, and you have me at the Nokia Theater in Downtown LA. Things are different these days. I didn't see anyone in Faerie wings. There were tons of (straight) men there. All of us die hards are now grown adults sipping on cups of wine with (mostly male) significant others in argyle sweaters and none of us have on glitter or sequins or tutus. I didn't see any major fights over "who is the biggest tori fan". Fortunately Tori, is still Tori, for better and for worse.
Sadly, I guess I still think it's 1994 and being a has-been, I didn't try to "smuggle" a camera in though I later discovered that they're no longer banned. Back in the old days I would wrap my camera in a maxi pad and put it in my purse, which usually made the 16 year old boy at security uncomfortable enough that he wouldn't even look any deeper into my bag and just let me pass through. This time, thinking I'm a grown up, I decided to forgo such antics and not bring a camera at all. Then I get inside and every single person in the entire place has a damn camera except for me (and no one knows how to turn off their flash, apparently). The emotional duress this causes someone like me was rather difficult to get over at first, as without the camera I feel not only naked, but as if I am naked, drunk, discombobulated, and completely unshaven as well. So all I had was the camera phone and shitty photos like this. My apologies.
I'd never been to the Nokia Theater before, so this was an experience in itself. The entire place smells like warm beer, which sort of left me feeling like I was at a bad, crowded frat party. Also, in the spirit of Dodger Stadium, some assholes brought balloon-type beach balls to whack around during the concert. Morons. There was a ton of security, though none of them seemed willing or able to enforce the rules, nor did a single one come to our rescue when a fist-fight damn near broke out in the row behind us because one guy started screaming at another guy for text messaging and then the text messager told the anti-text messager to shut up because we're at a concert and then they started pushing each other in the chest right in the middle of Tori singing Bouncing Off Clouds which was a reminder of why maybe it was better 10 years ago when straight guys didn't come to Tori shows.
Back in the day I would sit anxiously waiting for each song, and then scribble abbreviations on the back of my ticket stub and then run home to try to be the first post the set list on the newsgroup. Now they have a blog which people post to during the show, making the old method completely obsolete. But if you're a hardcore Tori fan, you might want to check it out.
So, onto the show.
Tori's most recent album American Doll Posse (released May 1, 2007) was the theme of the show. Now given that I am no longer so enmeshed with Tori and don't hang on every bit and piece of her existence like I did when I was 16, it took me a bit of time and the assistance of my sister to figure all of this out. Basically the American Doll Posse involves five different Toris (this is confusing for some of us long time fans as we had to get used to the 12 Strange Little Girls and then Scarlet and whatever else), each with a different mood, agenda and wig. For all of the stops on this 48 stop tour, she dressed up as an average of 3 "dolls," one of them usually Tori herself, and played songs to match each dolls' style.
The opening doll, known as Isabel, wears a long blond wig, apparently smokes and likes to do variations of the robot. The best thing about this one is that she sang "In The Springtime Of His Voodoo" which reminds me of rainy days in college and that made me feel relatively happy. Also I got beer spilled on my feet at the exact same time which really completed the nostalgia and brought me back to the good ol' days. Isabel also sang Scarlet's Walk and rather awkwardly swung a lamp in one hand while playing the harpsichord with the other. My guess is there is some interesting explanation for this (other than the fact that it's mentioned in the song) over on the teenybopper's Tori blog but I can't really sort through all of the txt msg speak to decipher what they're talking about. So we move on.
The next Tori to come out was Pip (not sure if her real name is Philip Pirrip, didn't ask), singing Cruel and shouting something along the lines of "Writers, where are you in this fucking town sucking the cock of corporate power?" Pip was wearing rubber pants and seemed much closer to the Tori I remember in 1994 as she fallated the microphone and humped the piano stool a few times, which used to be her signature move. Pip also had a few of Tori's bad habits, like singing Waitress (which is apparently making a comeback, they were selling I Believe In Peace, Bitch" tote bags at the stands) and drawing out every single last syllable for emphasis until nothing is emphasized at all. She's been doing this for 14+ years but it still gets a bit annoying, even for me. Pip also had some rather odd dance moves, one involved sitting in a pigeon pose type position and doing half push-ups while snarling. Definitely Tori (I mean Pip), but sometimes I wish she would go back to telling her dorky stories in between songs instead of all of this multiple personality hoopla.
Then Tori left and came back dressed as "Tori," which didn't actually do the real Tori justice. The Tori doll had an ugly orange-red wig and a sequined jumpsuit which was bright like a disco ball when she played. Fortunately she played some very classic old school Tori: Silent All These Years, Talula, Hey Jupiter, and one of my all-time favorites, Cooling. Her sweet and soothing voice that has rocked me to sleep for 15 years now truly emerged in this section of the show, its beauty so strong that I actually did not punch the girl in front of me who was talking on her cell phone to her sugar daddy during Cooling. But I was close.
There must be something I missed in the blog about concert etiquette but right as "Code Red" was ending, everyone rushed down the aisles toward the stage, which makes very little sense to me at all. The first time I remember this happening was at the Oakdale Theater in 1996. When Tori saw what was going on, she paused in the middle of the song and said "what is this, Metallica?" Well, it's still happening, and I still can't understand it, nor can I decipher how everyone received the appropriate cue to start stampeding at once. This may be a sign that I'm getting old.
Two encores and over two full hours of music later, the tour came to a close. I found myself quite satisfied with the experience. Tori's shows are certainly different now than they were 14 years ago. She's older and less enthusiastic. The piano stool humping has been whittled down to a few minutes and the singing is less orgasmic than before. She connects with the audience via costumes and role playing rather than through personal stories between songs and small, intimate venues. Regardless, she still puts on a great show, she's still looking rather hot, and she still has us following her around, 14 years later. That has to count for something.
Top photo by Daniel M Perez via Flickr
crappy camera photos taken by malingering