Tori Amos, Royal Albert Hall, gig review: 'Impressive but flat'


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Fairy light stars behind red-brick panels are Tori Amos’s backdrop tonight, suiting a woman whose songs are earthy American short stories, filtered through fairy tale metaphor.

The phone-cameras flashing blinding white as she takes her piano-seat indicate the adoration those songs have drawn to this still unusually female, feminist rock hero.

She arrived at the tangled front-line of American gender the same year as Kurt Cobain, 1991. Singing his band Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Denier!” is the word she pulls out to roar.

She is a highly stylised singer. During “Pancake”’s defiant dialogue with religious slavishness, consonants are left crackling in the mic, as if it’s smoking from a verbal lightning strike. “I’ve got enough guilt to start my own religion,” Amos confides, continuing the theme on “Crucify”.

“You’re just a pussy, my sweet boy,” she taunts on “Sugar”, smacking the piano like the authorities at the door. But she casts her sympathetic net wide, to a “glamorous bitch” and “wonderful boys”.

When she asks the crowd to sing along, though, few do. It’s symptomatic of impressively performed songs, whose connection falls flat somewhere in the dark.