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Tori Amos at Kravis Center

Tour de Force Tidal Wave – Tori Amos Kicks Off U.S. Ocean To Ocean Tour at Kravis Center

Almost 30 years after her debut at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Tori Amos graced the stage once again to launch her “Oceans to Oceans” summer tour across the U.S. As “God,” played by Jon Evans and renowned U.K. drummer Ash Soan began, the audience cheered. More than 2,200 devoted fans leaped to their feet with a roar as Amos, dressed in a signature flowing ensemble and dazzling stilettos, strode out into the lights. Then she took a deep bow and stepped purposefully to the piano and keyboard center stage, where she sat down on the bench and started the song, first with the opening chords and then with the first lyrics. As sure and strong as it was thirty years ago, her distinctive voice sounded high and breathy, then lowered to a growl.

The genre-defining Amos has achieved a devoted following since the release of her groundbreaking first album, “Little Earthquakes.” It was evident in the cheers after the song’s famous question, “Do you need a woman to take care of you?” Decades before the “Me Too” movement, Amos’ songs were the sly, neo-feminist incantations exchanged in underground coffeehouses, dormitories, and alternative nightclubs throughout the 90’s. Despite the years and all the societal changes, Amos’ moral compass has remained fixed on its true north, evidenced by her opening remarks to the audience after “God” ended. “You know the Proud Boys? Well, you can tell them I’m here. I am a proud Floridian…woman.”

The opening notes of the titular “Ocean to Ocean” soon rippled across the audience. A bubbling wave of beautiful music swelled; percussion joined in and crested into quiet as Amos, a beatific smile on her face, turned to face the second keyboard. Stretching her right leg to reach under one keyboard and gracefully extending her left to the pedals of the piano, she crooned the opening lyrics. From there, the song continued with Amos alternating from piano to keyboard, and finally, playing both simultaneously.

Although she is known as a classical/pop composer and performer, Amos style has always been tricky to define, which is part of her appeal. She herself admitted to the audience that sometimes she just wants to play whatever she is feeling in the moment. That moment became one of the most riveting songs of the evening as she launched into an earthy, female-centric version of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.” Her voice registering a level Eartha Kitt would envy, she commanded the audience “You go tell, tell my baby sisters, girls, not to do, not to do what I have done,” as the song became a warning against falling for the wrong man, more closely aligned to its original, Appalachian roots.

Many of the songs Amos performed that evening were steeped in earlier, literary roots, including “Climb” (2017’s Native Invader) and “Ruby Through the Looking-Glass” (2004’s Scarlett’s Hidden Treasures), but under the skillful hands and composition of Amos, they all carried deeper, contemporary meanings.

The “Ocean’s to Ocean’s” Tour is a fitting title beyond the album name if, (as Amos claimed during her show), she has now crossed the Atlantic from the Arthurian-steeped land of Cornwall, England, to a new home here in Florida. But the title also fits the concert by the way the songs from her sixteen albums were spread throughout the night, including the stunning solo performance of “Silent All These Years” (Little Earthquakes, 1992), the rousing “Little Amsterdam” (Boys for Pele, 1996), “Father’s Son,” (American Doll Posse, 2007), “Give” (Abnormally Attracted to Sin, 2009), “Bells for Her” (Under the Pink, 1994) and the pre-encore concert finale of the fan-favorite “Cornflake Girl,” (Little Earthquakes). Because it truly made one appreciate how, despite the number of years from first album to sixteenth, just like a message in a bottle at sea for decades, the ocean brings it back to shore, message intact. Like the timeless music of Tori Amos.


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