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Friday, August 08, 2008

Tori in Belgium: Body and Soul

Place: Dranouter, Belgium
Mood: Over the top
Song: Bad Girl / Body and Soul * Tori Amos

The now famous hate-it-or-love-it gown

Tori was playing her only gig this year in Dranouter, Belgium. It was a festival. I made sure I did not miss this gig because I wanted to see her so much again. I have only seen Tori once, and that was in Istanbul, Turkey during the Original Sinsuality 2005 tour. For VISA problems, I missed my only chance to see the concert with the band in Romania in 2007. Back in 2005, almost EVERY song was over 10 minutes. Lots of heeeee aaaayyyy and vocal stretching that I am not very fond of.

The so-called poster

I arrived with my friend Sylvain to Dranouter from Lille, France around noon, to check the place. We knew that she would be on from 10:30 PM to 11:45 PM. So it was fair to assume that she’d play around 12-14 songs. This being her only gig, Sylvain and I had no idea what she might play and we only threw predictions in the air.

With Sylvain, trip organizer and food agenda

We watched the previous act and made sure we had a good place. We were on the third row and it was a perfect view. There were 4 keyboards, one of which was on top of the bosendorfer and the synthesizer on top of the Hammond organ. Mark and the crew made the adjustments at 10 and at 10:30 sharp, Tori came in this gorgeous zebra-like cape. I didn’t care if she had a wig or not, she was drop dead gorgeous. Her make up was way too much white but what the hell.

Mark during the tests. He got tired of being Mac Aladdin and wanted to become Tori herself!

01. Crucify
The concert-opener. I have seen her play Crucify in Istanbul, and it was dreary. But in Dranouter, it was sharp, on the spot, angry when it should be, tender when it should be. She didn’t drag at all, and the ending was very short but consistent. She said ‘never going back again to crucify myself, never going back again to crucify my land’ a couple of lines and it was over.

02. Siren
Everyone went wild when she stared it. I knew this was a crowd pleaser. It was also played in regular tempo. Of course, this was not the fantasmabolic never ending 2005 Saragota Springs version in which she went on and on and on, but it was very nice still.

03. Bad Girl / Body and Soul
If there was one song I wanted to hear but knew she wouldn’t do it because it needs the band backup, it would have been Body and Soul. I didn’t even think in my weirdest dreams that she’d play it. So anyway, she positioned herself between the organ and the piano and started to play this groovy bit. I instantly thought Voodoo. And then she sand ‘I’ve been a bad bad girl, is this my destiny to be a bad bad girl’. Here I thought, is it a new song or what? Then the synths came in and it had a gorgeous effect. Until she chanted ‘I need, I need… body and soul… I need… body and soul’ I think I lost it at this moment. I wouldn’t call it Body and Soul though only because it was a whole new thing. Of course some of the lyrics were there “7 devils”, “communion”, “body and soul” but the arrangement was even sassier and the added intro was just great. I think this was my favorite moment of the concert.

Tori Talk 1
Right after that, she said hello and greeted everybody. She thanked us for coming as this is her ‘only gig this year’.

04. Silent All These Years
Possibly the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night. It was a lovely version. The ‘Excuuuse me’ bit was still here, but of course, this was not 2005.

05. Suede
Venus is my absolute favorite album, so anything off Venus is always welcome. And boy was it a whole new Suede I was hearing! Quite powerful and fierce! Both adjectives would come a lot in the forthcoming songs as she felt possessed. She played all four keyboards on this one, and she omitted the ‘little sister’ part as in 2005. But this version could blow the snoozefest that is on the ‘05 Manchester bootleg by miles.

06. Leather
Ok we all knew this one was coming. She encouraged everyone to sing along with her with a motion of her hand, so instead of hearing one Leather, I heard 300.

07. Take to the Sky / I Feel the Earth Move
She needed crowd pleaser songs as it was a festival gig, and not everyone wanted maybe obscure b-sides and stuff. So this was welcome for most. Everyone clapped. And then it was coupled with Carol King’s I Feel the Earth Move bit, taking her to the White House. She even went from playful to direct and said ‘We need November now.’ So it was very clear what she was talking about.

Tori Talk 2
She started to say something about the next song but she stopped when she recognized some of the people in the audience and thanked them to have made it all the way to see her from afar. And then she said (in a cute Tash-voice) that Tash told her to stop touring so that she can leave school, to which Tori replied that she has to talk to her prefect. And then she said that the next song has not showed up in a while and wanted to be played tonight.

08. Apollo’s Frock
So that’s when the obscure b-side comes in. What a great addition to the set. A beautiful piano intro and she kicked in. And happened the unexpected. When she started the ‘But I am tired of your taking from me’ line, she morphed into another being. First she coupled the piano with the synth, and exploded in rage! Who could have said that she can be so forceful in such a lullaby-song. The whole part was powerful. The ‘Apollo’s frock was always beautiful’ was played on the synth and the organ. Then she shifted to the piano for the second verse. And when it was time for the ‘Shakina’ part, another massive vocal treatment. It was even more colossal than the first one.

09. Mr. Zebra
Very playful. You could tell she was having fun playing it.

10. Barons of Suburbia
Wow. Just wow. I can’t get tired of this song. I remember we were all anticipating on the forums to hear the band treatment of this and Marys with the Posse band reworking, but they did not show up. So this was a wonderful surprise. She starting with a long piano only intro (no organ) and arrived to the point when she sang ‘but baby will you let my’ she stopped and said ‘fuck fuck fuck I try so hard on this song’ but continued it marvelously. It was all very fast with no vocal-stretching like in 2005. The ending was phenomenal. At one point she even said ‘I am piecing a potion to combat your poison, I am piecing a potion to GIVE IT TO ME combat your poison’. It was more than powerful. A wonderfully built-in tour-de-force.

11. Cloud on My Tongue
At this point, I knew we were reaching the end. I thought Barons would end the main set. I knew she has not played anything from Pink and Choirgirl yet (that is if you count Apollo as part of Scarlet’s b-sides). I could have done without Cloud. I think it is overplayed and the ‘circles and circles’ stanza gets too long. But it was beautiful nonetheless.

12. Precious Things
The fifth song from the Little Earthquakes era. I was interesting to see Precious Things solo. I think she hasn’t played it solo for a very very long time. It was a very sharp performance and the ‘giiiiirrrrrrrrrrl’ part was spot on. It got a loud cheer.

13. Amber Waves
The only Encore we got. Tori was bathing in an orange light. Normally this song does nothing to me. And solo is a nightmare. It drags and I hate how she sings paper cuyuyuyuyuts on the Boston ’05 bootleg. But none of that in Dranouter. It was very fast. No dragging, and ‘paper cuts’ was actually ‘paper cuts’. At the end, the lights shifted towards her and she shifted her hands towards the audience when she sang ‘they told me to tell you they are waving’. Very moving. An appropriate ending for a phenomenal show. And she left at exactly 11:42 so the whole thing was perfectly executed to meet with her time limits.

There was something for everyone during this gig. Crowd pleasers like SATY, TTTS and Leather, rare songs like Apollo, Suede and Barons, and a song with a whole new arrangement (Body and Soul). It’s great that she only played two singles so it didn’t feel too much of a greatest hits evening. No Fairytale, no Sneeze, no Cooling, no Cool on Your Island. As usual, Choirgirl got the shaft, but you can’t ask for everything, can you?

All in all, a wonderful evening. I could not have asked for more. I am glad I came all the way from Beirut to see this. Thank you Tori!

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