–by Randy Thompson
–photos by Sean Derrick
Tori Amos made a stop on Friday night at the beautiful Stifel Theatre in the midst of the US leg of her ongoing “Ocean to Ocean Tour”.
Opening the show was TOW’RS, who hail from Flagstaff, Arizona. They’re led by Gretta and Kyle Miller and are joined by Kyle Keller for the tour, as well. While they’re performing as trio for this tour, the band has had up to 8 members in the past. They played a gentle folk/rock blend that was very enjoyable and served up skillfully as a solid lead up to the headliner. Tow’rs has a new album out Joy Alchemy, which is their sixth album.
The audience embraced their songs, written primarily by Kyle and Gretta, and gave them plenty of love as the band played stirring, emotionally absorbing music that told heartfelt stories. The short set featured incredible harmonies, and skillful guitar playing as well. They did a beautiful cover of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”. This band was a good choice by Tori to set the mood for what her own sets would provide.
We were treated to an amazing performance by Tori Amos and her band. While we were familiar with her sound it was our first time hearing her live, so we were not necessarily sure what to expect. The audience, however, was lying in wait and ready to roll when the music started. As soon as the lights went down the crowd was up and eager to be a part of the passion that is a Tori Amos concert. What Tori and her band presented was a deeply layered, river of melody that was full of twists, turns, and unexpected delights that did not fall into traditional rock and pop categories.
Tori Amos is a piano virtuoso, and her band mates, Jon Evans on bass guitar and Ash Soan on drums, provided a steadily syncopated beat adjusting to whatever mood she brought out of the piano. On her latest album, 2021’s Ocean to Ocean, Amos has written songs filled with passion and layered with deep meaning highlighting not only her piano and vocal skills but her incredible songwriting skills as well. The show was, in fact, almost aquatic in its presentation, which is very fitting given the tour name.
The screen in the back of the stage provided an atmospheric palate of colors that drew us into her world. At times the background had a watery, rippled look during “Ocean to Ocean”, at other times giving us waves of color in “Blood Roses” and “Little Amsterdam” that flowed with the melodies. The music consisted of strong and beautiful compositions that seemed to wind their way in various directions, and the band was so tight that it appeared to be an effortless journey.
Tori Amos sat mid stage, shimmering in an iridescent jumpsuit, flowing effortlessly between the grand piano and the double keyboard almost serpentine in appearance. It was captivating to see her focused on the audience with both arms shooting out to either side as she played both instruments (piano and keyboard) at once. She accomplished this feat in such a fluid manner, that it almost seemed supernatural in a way that was both dynamic and mesmerizing.
Tori Amos connected to her audience from the moment she appeared on stage commenting that she had many great memories of St Louis and the Midwest; she thanked her fans for coming from up and down the river to see her at the Stifel.
She connected with them with defiance and vulnerability and humor, at one point saying that she loved librarians, urging the audience to support them and that secretly they were her “crush”. In return the devoted and intense crowd were often shouting out “We love you Tori” and singing and clapping to each song. The crowd stood and ran towards the stage like a tidal wave when the powerful song, “Big Wheel” began, staying there and dancing through the encore of “Cornflake Girl” and “Tombigbee”. With many waves, handshakes and blown kisses Tori Amos left the stage.
Be sure to check out the rest of the gallery of photos below, after the setlist.
When the Daisies Bloom Again
Boots of Spanish Leather
I Must Believe in the Morning
Tori Amos Setlist:
A Sorta Fairytale
Ocean to Ocean
Putting the Damage On
Metal Water Wood