Well it finally arrived and so we can finally review it after several viewings and night time vigils listening to the CDs – yes its a Tori Amos review!
Taken from back to back years of playing the same festival the two concerts show a curious before and after biopic of how getting a record out really can set you free. The 1991 festival was before “Little Earthquakes” was released, the ’92 show was several months after.
The ’91 show is refreshing in a way that you hear Tori play the songs completely straight and in their album form. However what is more telling is that Tori’s live performance is utterly compelling from the first key to the last.
“Silent All These Years” is played at album speed with perfect high pitched vocals which is something you don’t get often these days. There’s nothing wrong performing it slower and intimately but its nice to hear it played this way too. “Precious Things” is just as fierce as I’ve ever heard, with the electric piano really getting a pounding. Tori doesn’t give an inch at all during this song – one that would become such a staple for live shows here on in.
“China” follows with an almost militant bass note played in the verses which gives it a different flow and feel to how the song ended up with a completely different middle section with Tori raging “I know you love to hit me boy”. “Crucify” too has an urgency to it with a flow and speed to it which is really refreshing to hear the bare bones version after 10 minute renditions (not that there’s anything wrong with those) of late. “Leather” completes the first half with Tori talking for the first time giving insight into the songs background. A Tori staple, this song has always been spot on and again it is here.
“Song For Eric” opens act two, a beautiful soaring vocal piece that became a b-side, as did “Upside Down”
which is haunting yet compelling. “Happy Phantom” then juxtaposes it with the trademark bounces and woo-hoo’s and a cute mistake at the beginning! She then dedicates a beautiful rendition of “Winter” to her dad before doing a spirited encore of “Thank You” (again different to how she records it later on). These ten songs are like witnessing the birth of a real stage performer of legendary status and that’s only sealed by disc 2 when the following year she returns with another set.
For ’92 she is armed with a real piano opens with “Little Earthquakes” and immediately gets into her stride, having a go at the talkers in the front row and then giving a great performance albeit skipping the second verse. “Crucify” then sounds much more stilted this time around with specific speed transitions for emphasis – something she uses readily to this day with perfect effect.
“Silent All These Years” has a great story to open it, showing Tori’s confidence to open up to the audience more this year round. Then we’re back into frantic mode for “Precious Things” which equals the previous performance and continues as a real stand out. “Happy Phantom” seems more together too with a real skip to it.
The highlight of this performance however is the “Whole Lotta Love/Thank You” mash up. Tori lets rip as such brings the roof down on rocking piano keys and soaring vocals to all kinds of pitches and depths. This performance seals the deal that she is definitely a class act. To follow it up with “Me and a Gun” which is a captivating piece regarding her rape cements it. Where as “Song For Eric” was sped up last year, this year the vocal song is slowed down and delicately delivered.
“Winter” is also deliberate in places and really tugs at the heartstrings. The closing track “Smells Like Teen Spirit” seems like a strange one to end on. Its surreal and original interpretation means it sounds like an original with reserved anger.
The sound quality is excellent overall and the DVD is captivating to watch just as much as the CD’s are to listen. Its also different enough to make a worthy purchase if you’ve already bought the 2005 bootlegs or some of the downloadable American Doll Posse sets – and who doesn’t want a Tori solo DVD?