Tori Amos Plays Small Room To Raise Big Money

Show for 28 highest-bidding fans benefited AIDS Action Committee.

BOSTON — Tori Amos wants to eat pizza with Lucifer. One of her goals in life is to be a good drinking buddy, and she hopes "her girls" — her reference for her songs — are good drinking buddies for her fans. Her food du jour is Scandinavian ice berries, available at a London restaurant she declined to identify.

Amos disclosed these tidbits, along with words of wisdom about abuse, anger and forgiveness, Friday, during an intimate 50-minute performance for a tiny audience of about 120 people — including 28 acolytes, who paid as much as $2,800 for the opportunity to see the piano-playing singer up close and personal.

The concert at the Modern — formerly Mama Kin — was sponsored by WFNX-FM and raised more than $35,000 for the AIDS Action Committee, according to the station. Two days earlier, on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, listeners bid for tickets during an on-air auction.

"There are so many creative people we've lost," Amos said of her fund-raising activities for AIDS organizations. "This disease has taken so many sunbeams."

The singer, her vivid red hair painting a sharp contrast to her purple crushed-velvet outfit, sat at a Bosendorfer grand piano on a tiny, stark stage, with the audience but a foot or two away. Legs spread wide, balanced precariously on the edge of her seat, Amos opened with "Concertina," a sensual piece that prompted audible sighs from some of the acolytes.

Before the performance, winning bidders received autographed photos of Amos and were brought backstage to meet the artist. Amos also posed for a Polaroid with each of the winning bidders. "When [Amos] heard how much money was raised, she insisted on the photos," WFNX marketing director Nadia Behring said.

Paul Reed of Lynnfield, who bid $2,800 for tickets for himself and his

wife, Maria, said he considered himself a winner, but said, "The real winners are the ones who get the money."

WFNX program director Laurie Gail said the amount raised was a record for

the radio station, which has a long-standing tradition of fund raising

for AIDS charities. The station broadcast Amos' performance live on the

air and on its website. The show was followed by a silent auction of autographed memorabilia from acts such as the Foo Fighters and the Offspring.

Amos, who released the double album to venus and back — with one studio disc and one live disc — in September, also answered audience members' questions, her responses framed in beguilingly poetic language and laced with humor.

Introducing the song "Merman," Amos said she played the song frequently on her recent tour in honor of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten and killed in October 1998. She also characterized the song as a loving tribute to her husband.

During much of the song, Amos' eyes were closed, and she gave the distinct impression that she was, as she frequently claims, channeling the music. When her eyes were open, Amos looked directly into the audience, conveying an intimate strength and purpose.

Before playing "Jackie's Strength" (RealAudio excerpt) Amos said her mother was a great admirer of Jackie Kennedy. Her mother was holding the infant Tori when she heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot; she was so distraught by the news that she had to put her baby down. Amos performed the song with her eyes closed, her expression of rapture matching that of the devoted fans at her feet.