NEW YORK — "It's kind of like a living room," Tori Amos breathed into the microphone, referring to the intimacy that comes with over 100 of her diehard fans no more than six feet from her piano.
"So you can see the spitting up close," she added, self-consciously glancing down at some spray that spewed from the last song, "which is really embarrassing."
It's too early to know whether that will appear on "Scarlet's Sessions," Amos' forthcoming DVD that will contain footage from Thursday's performance at Sony Music Studios. The DVD, which may also feature an interview and glimpses from her current tour, is expected to be released early next year.
There aren't many images in music as beautiful as Amos perched at a sleek black grand piano with her straight, vibrant tresses cascading over her shoulders. Clad in a pink and brown sheer dress, which billowed when a rare breeze swept through the studio, she reflected the delicate majesty of a rose as she delivered 20 selections from her decade-long career, spanning from her 1992 debut, Little Earthquakes, to her latest album, Scarlet's Walk, released last month (see "Tori Amos Writes Scarlet Letters, Draws Tour Map"). Surprisingly absent, however, was anything off last year's covers album, Strange Little Girls.
Flanked by bassist Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain, whom she often turned her intense blue eyes toward between songs, Amos led the trio mostly through Scarlet's Walk songs, through early fan favorites such as "Crucify" and the signature "Cornflake Girl," which brought familiar joy to both artist and audience alike.
On the whole the songs teetered between lovelorn fragility and driving fury, Amos' trademark dichotomy rendered so well on her records. Amos grooved to her heavy left hand on "Take to the Sky," from 1992's Winter [#1] EP, while slapping at the keys with her right and fostering a body rock that consumed much of the audience. There, as well as on "A Sorta Fairytale" and "Sweet Sangria," among others, she alternated between the grand piano before her and two upright electric pianos behind her, adding a dynamic element to the otherwise serene atmosphere.
Amos and her band were set in wintry elegance. Suspended lighting fixtures dripped with crooked white shards resembling icicles and four shimmering silver drapes hung lazily in the corners. Images of Americana that evoke the travelogue vibe of Scarlet's Walk were intermittently projected on screens.
During technical stoppages, she engaged the audience in capricious banter about, among other things, the 17 granola bars she had stashed in her bag, eating sushi after the show, and ruminations that arose while reapplying her make-up about how some boys could look cute in lipstick — or "lippy," as she referred to it.
The nearly two-and-a-half hour set was close to seamless, save the revisions of "Pancake" and "A Sorta Fairytale," which actually sounded better the first time around. "Scarlet's Sessions" should do well to capture Amos' live performances, which, for those who have never experienced a show, are routinely rousing, lovely and deft no matter the setting or set list.
"Scarlet's Sessions" set list:
- "Wampum Prayer"
- "A Sorta Fairytale"
- "Take to the Sky"
- "Cornflake Girl"
- "Mrs. Jesus"
- "Amber Waves"
- "Sweet Sangria"
- "I Can't See New York"
- "Spring Haze"
- "Taxi Ride"
- "Tear in Your Hand"
- "Hey Jupiter"
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.