Reputations are mysterious things. Rumours of past gigs had painted Tori Amos as a humourless virtuoso who’d sooner tell talkative fans to sling their hook than let their blethering encroach upon her arpeggios. Well, if that Tori exists she’s hidden tonight behind a mesmerising performance, the intensity of its apices offset elsewhere with a playful showiness. It helps that she has pockets of fans for whom the word ‘devotional’ doesn’t seem sufficient, and though it takes a while for the first strangled “I LOVE YOU TORRRRRI!” to lurch forth, Amos plays to their enthusiasm throughout.
In particular, her stool-straddling Janus piano-playing is damn impressive, and a sly smile suggests she’s all too aware of its ability to drop jaws. Even an unfortunate blunder from the Concert Hall - leaving the PA playing Blondie during part of her set - doesn’t spark a diva tantrum, Amos either unaware of the distraction or unwilling to let it ruin tonight’s highlight, a solo Taxi Ride. Early favourites - Cornflake Girl, China - are drip-fed but Abnormally Attracted to Sin naturally dominates, with a fierce Strong Black Vine proving most memorable. The first few rows are on their feet and worshipping at her ankles before its last chord is struck, but even those less animate in their appreciation seem suitably impressed.
(i've since heard that she's absolutely lovely in interview as well - i guess this pre-image i had of her as some stern ice-maiden was exaggerated from the time when she did in fact tell chatterboxes to leave the gig, or else wholly imaginary... it's nice to have false preconceptions righted)