[29 July 2014]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Ears With Feet, the name given to hardcore Tori Amos fans by Amos herself, can rejoice at the fact that on her latest tour to support Unrepentant Geraldines, the singer-songwriter is pulling out all the stops when it comes to covers and requests. In addition to defying expectations by premiering obscure tracks like “Zero Point” and dusting off extremely rare b-sides like “Alamo”, Amos is also digging deep into her catalog: back to her debut record Y Kant Tori Read to fulfill requests for these early songs, many of which have never been played live at all before 2014, and which fans have been asking her to do for many years to no avail.
In Denver, a clever cadre of well-wishing tour followers donned the costumes and accoutrement of a merry band of pirates in solidarity to push the never-played-before track “Pirates” (from Amos’ distastrously-reviewed record from 1988), onto that evening’s setlist. Amos, who previous to this tour had only played the tracks “Cool on Your Island”, “Etienne” and “On the Boundary” from this era, gamely got into the spirit with the group.
“I’m very impressed with your presentation!” Amos said to the group, as she jumped up down jubilantly (likely flabbergasted at the appearance of a large group of people in the theater lobby dressed as pirates and yelling “arrrrr”). The dedicated group’s costumed gamble was one that paid off: later that evening she debuted “Pirates” alongside with the aforementioned “On the Boundary”. In addition, Amos has also been beautifully reclaiming “Fire on the Side” and “Floating City” solo and semi-regularly on the Unrepentant Geraldines tour, so it is completely within the realm of possibility for fans to expect not only the album’s single “The Big Picture”, but also perhaps even songs from this era like “Heart Attack at 23” and “Fayth” live for the first time ever with nearly25 years of perspective and practice behind her.
The Unrepentant Geraldines Tour could easily be called The Unrepentant Rarities tour, and it is, in fact, the kind of show many supporters have been wishing for, for years. When PopMatters last spoke to Amos, she credited daughter Natashya with giving her a reality check as she turned 50 that has paid off in sonic spades during her one woman show, which calls to mind the show-stoppingly spiritual cabaret heart of Judy Garland or Marlene Dietrich. “Tash said to me ‘you’ve got to grab this with both hands, Mom and go rock.’ So I looked at her and said ‘one woman show?’ She looked at me and said [growls] ‘one woman show’.
This inspirational call to arms has meant that, thrillingly, nothing Amos has ever made is off the table and every night is a stunning series of surprises, an element of her singular talent that is oft-cited by fans as being one of things they most love about her: the feeling that anything is possible, musically, emotionally, vocally or otherwise at a live show. Her playful irreverence towards following any set list structure that might be read as conventional can also be seen as yet another loving nod to the reciprocal, madcap dialog that Amos has been having with her fan base since her 1991 debut Little Earthquakes. Every night of the new tour evolves, encompassing over two decades worth of material to bring a combination of totemic staples, favorites, covers, requests and oddities. Each setlist is singular, once-in-a-lifetime and tailored for the audience so make sure to wear the right costume when making your request to Amos.
A limited amount of tickets are still available for the remaining solo shows in the United States as well as for the Australian leg of the tour, which will feature Amos backed up by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for one night only at the Sydney Opera House.
Watch “On the Boundary”, 2014
Watch “Etienne”, 2014
Watch “Cool on Your Island”, 2014