Fire and tenderness: Tori Amos live in SA - Times LIVE
   
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Fire and tenderness: Tori Amos live in SA

Nikita Ramkissoon | 2011-11-14 12:14:31.0

I remember hearing Tori Amos’ 'Cornflake Girl' on MTV when I was about 12 years old. I was gripped by this redhead beauty, who mixed piano with soft electronic and acid lyrics. Her voice stuck in my head like a splinter.

Fifteen years later, I saw her live here in South Africa and the feeling of awe is still there.

Tori Amos’ show at The Theatre of Marcellus at Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg was definitely something to remember. Singing old favourites like Winter and Crucify, she enthralled the small and intimate audience.

I must say, at 48, she still sounds as fresh and feisty as she did in her younger years, if not sharper and more spirited with a much deeper voice and far more emotion.

As I sat on my own in the audience, I wished for someone I knew to be next to me to share this somewhat spiritually moving experience.

Dressed as quirkily as always and set against a backdrop of dim fairy lights, she told the audience stories of love, pain, abuse and heart-wrenching realness through her songs.

Her live performance is simple. No bells and whistles. Just her voice and two pianos, which she deftly played, simultaneously. It was all she needed. Sounding crisp, clear and flawless, she gave us a performance that drove many people in the audience to tears.

Softly, she speaks to the audience like old friends. That they are, as most – aged between 25 and 50 – have gone through their musical lives relating to her lyrics and the intensity of her music.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” she said to us, bowing humbly. “It’s an absolute privilege to play for you.” I felt as if she was speaking to me alone.

Anyone who knows and loves her music knows that it’s a poignant journey from beginning to end of each album. So was the concert.

The music itself is faultless. She never hits a bum note, and the passion of her words are brought out in her strong yet feminine voice, which ranges from just below middle-C to almost operatic soprano.

I may be gushing here, but she’s nothing short of genius.

Amos, with fiery sweetness, has recaptured audiences of old with her maturing sound, and I do believe I will love this new album as much as the old ones.

Her opening act, South African-born Yoav, also grabbed my attention, even more so than when he opened for Imogen Heap.

Yoav makes sounds with his beaten-up guitar that I never knew existed. I dare say he sounds better live than he does on his album, tugging on guitar strings as if they were heartstrings.

The fullness of sound he creates with just one guitar and his melodic voice is masterful. I am looking forward to his second album.

If you still haven’t seen this show, there is one concert left tonight in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town at Grand Arena, Grand West on Thursday November 17.

It’s one of those ‘I’m probably never going to think about Tori in the same way again’ experiences.

I know I am slightly altered after this stunning performance.

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