Thanks to Jeremy Buckley for bring this to my attention. You can read this interview/concert review online at dailynebraskan.com or below.
Soft-spoken singer radiates power on stage
By ANDREA HEISINGER
March 25, 2003
Tori Amos is a tiny woman.
She swears when least expected.
She would someday like to do a collaboration with Run DMC.
These are three things learned in a basement dressing room of the Orpheum Theatre-turned-interview room with the singer/pianist before her show Monday night.
With mirrors reflecting every angle, Amos entertained questions asked by a handful of college journalists about everything from the war in Iraq to her daughter's education.
Amos is on tour promoting her latest CD, "Scarlet's Walk." The journey of America portrayed on the album is in the content.
"The songs reflect my walk," Amos said. "They're about my loss of confidence as a woman. I went to the edges as far as I could."
She said there are four lovers portrayed on the record, and they keep shifting shape. The album starts its journey in California as a porn star, and works its way inward through Wounded Knee, where a split happens, and the madness of America is ripped open.
Between all of the metaphors, there is a savvy woman, who is known for getting what she wants out of the record industry, despite being a woman.
"With guys, everything in their songs is really deep," Amos said. "With women, it's just more fucking chick stuff."
With a steely look in her eye, she made it clear how far she went to keep musical integrity and control over her work.
"Would I burn my tapes?" she said. "You bet your ass. I've retained my vision, but never had to go to court because of it."
Amos' unique place in the music industry was what drew Jan Deeds to her sound.
"She tells stories that are real," said Deeds, assistant director of gender programs and student involvement. "People do listen to what women musicians are saying. They communicate different viewpoints and personal stories."
Halfway through the journalists' questions, Amos offered up a demonstration of why she plays the piano as though about to start a race.
Sitting upright, with both feet in front of her was fine if playing a nice ballad. But when it's time for the intense numbers she is known for, a foot goes back, and a push to the shoulders didn't even budge her.
One topic that was bound to end up in conversation was the current war in Iraq. Amos seemed somewhat reluctant to offer any view about the conflict, but said it did affect her musically.
"The songs change meaning, especially now with the war," she said. "They changed more from last night than from 10 years ago."
She mentioned the song "Horses" as one that had changed meaning recently, and people were finding different meanings in her other songs.
That's what she likes about her songs; that people can imply different meanings from them.
"I'm careful not to alienate fans," Amos said. "I don't want to emotionally blackmail people. I want to hold a space for people to come to where they don't feel threatened."
Judging from the sometimes frightening devotion of her fans, Amos probably doesn't have to worry about threatening her fans anytime soon.
So what would make her stop making her distinct brand of piano rock?
"When I have to use an oxygen machine before going on," Amos said. "You have to have a passion for it. If a performer loses that passion, it's sad because then no one wants to go see them."
With those words, it was time for Amos to sit at the piano and show that passion.
Before Amos could own the stage, it was time for a man and his guitar to try his hand at simply renting it.
Rhett Miller, of Old 97s fame, was the man behind the guitar playing like a madman.
Though a brave effort in front of a crowd obviously only there to see Amos, Miller's acoustic songs were bland in comparison to what was about to come.
"A Sorta Fairytale" was the opening number, and the first single off "Scarlet's Walk."
"Father Lucifer" was next, which showed Amos' talent at multitasking, by playing the piano with one hand, harpsichord with another and singing at the same time.
From then on, there was no stopping the woman, and it made me wonder how the wonderfully powerful voice soaring through the theater came out of the soft-spoken woman.
For two hours, she played almost 20 songs and two encores with no break, and only one comment to the audience involving the whereabouts of Marlon Perkins, the Mutual of Omaha Wild America icon.
Though admittedly bad at knowing song names, plus the fact there was not really a set list except for the one scrawled on Amos' hand, I did find some highlights, which hopefully happened during the songs I mention.
Amos created a medley of the songs "Precious Things" and "Crucify" by almost splitting personalities and turning back and forth between two pianos, turning it into an epic jam.
She covered a Neil Young song, which I thought far superior to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which I assumed she would play.
Amos then sang "Silent All These Years," but slowed down the chorus just enough so she seemed to trip over the words, but then brought it all back together.
And my favorite part of the show, besides the Jerry Garcia look-alike that I got the joy of sitting behind, was the fact that Amos seemed truly glad to be there, and appreciative and worthy of the worship heaped upon her.