Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tori Amos Puts Her Own Spin on the Season

As part of the music magazine’s SpinHouse Live series, Tori Amos gives an intimate concert at the Spin offices in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Ben Rowland.

By Mary Lyn Maiscott

Under black chandeliers, Tori Amos, her long hair nearly as red as her multi-gathered minidress—which, along with her gold stretch leggings, made her look like an exotic Christmas present—started her set at the Spin magazine loft Tuesday night with her song “Ophelia,” whispering at one point “I feel you.”

We felt her too. While not exactly going all Jerry Lee Lewis on us, the dramatic Amos would not be contained by anything so prim as a piano bench. She stretched out a glimmering leg, stomped a metallic stiletto, and at the end of “Wednesday,” her arms flying out behind her, appeared to be the eagle of her lyrics, about to land.

In a set of only six songs, the other four were from her new, seasonal CD, Midwinter Graces. Unlike Bob Dylan, who sings—rasps?—such holiday standards as “Here Comes Santa Claus” seemingly straight for his recently released Christmas in the Heart, Amos, a minister’s daughter, has delved into carols such as “Silent Night” and “Star of Wonder” to create her own rich works. Thus, “Silent Night” becomes “A Silent Night with You” (in which the singer at times sounds surprisingly like Madonna on a very good day).

My favorite from the album, however, is wholly original, the feel-good—you can almost see the confetti falling—“Pink and Glitter,” written, Amos explained while introducing the song, because in this time of celebrating the birth of a baby boy, she wanted to honor little girls (but nevertheless gave a smiling thumbs-up to the guys while singing the line “Little boys are getting an honorable mention from me”).

Her last song was the atmospheric “Snow Angel,” whose most memorable moment came when Amos briefly stopped, after making an undetectable mistake on the piano, and exclaimed “Fuck!” This only made her audience more delighted than they had been a second before—and I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

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