I saw, I heard, and it was good. Nearing the end of the Night Of Hunters Tour, and following a rave reviewed performance at the Royal Albert Hall, Tori landed in Belfast on 11/8/11 for her first concert here since 1994. She was reminded of this fact during the Meet and Greet and embarrassedly mentioned it during the show. Speaking of meet and greets, I didn’t get into the city early enough and so missed the opportunity to ask any silly questions- ‘Who does your hair?; How powerful are orange knickers?; Wanna come back to mine? And so on.
I arrived around 6.30, chucked the car into a space (possibly reserved for buses) outside St George’s market, and traipsed round to Victoria’s Bar (formerly The Advocate) to meet other gig-goers. Only 6 were in my group, and we are all sitting in different parts of The Waterfront. I was on the top floor, row 2 but as I headed for the stairs a Top Man model looking type said that due to low capacity the top section was closed and I would be re-seated. Into the middle section I went, and was promptly seated beside two older women. Chatting about recent sets, albums, and the fact that no-one we knew knew who Tori Amos was took us up to the support act- Mark Hole. This jaunty English character gestured like a Shakespeare Company Stalwart to my general annoyance, although thankfully his songs were pleasant enough- bitter and sad songs of love spliced with their meanings and stories about his recently made ex- girlfriend.
After this ended I got an excited call from one of my friends who just happened to get moved to the front row, within pant throwing distance of the Bösendorfer. Lucky git. Anyway, around 9, Tori’s string Quartet- Apollon Musagète stepped on to the state as the lights dimmed. A few painful moments later Tori bounced on, stood in the spotlight, and saluted us in her own special way before sitting down and launching into new album opener ‘ShatteringSea’.
You’re never going to please every fan, and with 12 albums and a million covers and b-sides, it’s likely your favourite song will be missed. Not that Tori fans would care too much as we’re a pretty ravenous bunch. Having spent some time on setlist.com I knew that Tori wasn’t sticking to any fixed list of tracks, mixing as much as possible but starting and closing with the same tracks. I was hoping for Northern Lad and Sugar, but alas. We did however get tracks from most of her albums including 4 from her latest release.
The setting was odd, at times Tori was a lone figure on stage, and no matter where I looked I saw empty seats. The main hall seemed pretty full, but due to the top half being closed I don’t imagine we’ll see her coming back. I knew there wouldn’t be that many Tori fans fromUlstertoMunster, but surely there are enough to fill The Waterfront Hall? Between songs there was little time for banter- we did get a couple of a capella interludes where Tori sang us a short story, but she only spoke to us a few times. Not to start any rumours, but a friend said that he did not see her usually omnipresent husband in attendance.
Every time; Every time I have been to a concert recently I have forgotten my cameras. So apologies for not peppering these words with blurry pics of Amos spread legged between two pianos. Her playing was mostly perfect and punctuated with the usual graphic movements and stances, whilst her voice sent most of the crowd into frenzied tears at at least one point. For me, her playing of The Rose (played at my wedding) blending into Winter was ahigh point. With one encore taking the tally up to 24 songs, we certainly had a long, strong show. I see that Dublin had a much varied set the following night, even getting A Sorta Fairytale, Little Eathquakes, and Precious Things which we missed out on. I could be petty and say I preferred their setlist, but then I would be being petty.
As the front rows (including my friend) rushed the stage for the encore, the crowd picked up their energy and Tori bounced through finale Big Wheel as we chanted M-I-L-F along to her commands. Like a wrestler entering the arena, Tori ran along the stage to shake hands with the fans (including you know who) before disappearing into the night. You know who proceeded to leap on stage and rip the setlist from underneath the table, complete with scratched writing in felt tip including the mysterious track known as ‘Tori Says Hello’…
All in all this was a great night, and as I raced up the M2 towards the coast to try to get home before 1:00 am, no-one passed me. Just me, the night, and for some reason, Ride The Lightning blaring on the stereo.
Tori Amos; Waterfront Hall; 11/8/2011:
Velvet Revolution (Solo)
Father Lucifer (Solo)
The Rose (Solo)
Your Cloud (Solo)
Way Down (Solo)