The exquisite Iveagh Gardens, ensconced by a perimeter of tall trees acting as a buffer from the hustle-bustle of Harcourt Street, was as a haven for Tori Amos fans on Friday evening as the flame-haired musician made her first Irish appearance in more than five years. Amos has reached a point in her musical career where it doesn’t particularly matter if she’s touring a new album or not – or indeed how good it is – she will always sell tickets because she is Tori Amos (see also Bob Dylan).
That’s not to demean her relevance amongst today’s music but it’s difficult to argue that she still holds as much sway as a recording artist nowadays as she did in the 1990’s. Still, this 2010 version of Tori Amos is more than capable of captivating an audience for two plus hours, be they rabid fans or not. Those less familiar with her musical output may suggest Amos’ material is too samey-samey, too repetitive. This was a solo performance, and while those with a propensity for wandering minds might suggest that after a while each song begins to bleed into the next, there was more than enough of her hits on show to satisfy the casual fans.
After birthday boy Rhob Cunningham of Our Little Secrets opens proceedings with a well-received set, it was Tori’s turn. The large temporary stage engulfed the diminutive Amos as she straddled her stool and played dual pianos (left hand on her Bosendorfer piano, right hand on electric organ) for opener -Bouncing Off Clouds’. It was a few songs later when the first real ‘oh, I know this one!’ buzz spread through the audience for -Crucify’ and then Amos took her turns to put her spin on Depeche Mode’s -Personal Jesus’, as so many others have done before her.
The absolutely magnificent -Precious Things’ from Amos’ landmark debut album Little Earthquakes was just that – magnificent, and represents the epitome of what it is that Amos excels at: biting lyrics and a fast, catchy tempo. Interestingly – and much to the surprise of an Amos fan to my right – Tori forgot a section of lyrics while performing a medley of -Beauty Queen’ and -Horses’ (substituting the forgotten verse with ‘fuck, fuck, fuck…’). Amos fit in two more covers before all was said and done. The first was her curious rendition of -Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and the second the more seemingly conventional choice of The Cure’s -Love Song’. It’s difficult to say whether or not we’ll see Tori Amos rubbing shoulders with today’s popstars at the top of the charts but does it matter? Regardless of sales or record industry hype, the North Carolinian is still infinitely more engaging a performer or a songwriter than your Kate Nashes or your Lily Allens. Yet, for all this performance’s high points, it would still be nice to see her with a full band next time.
Photo: Ian Keegan