The North American leg of Amos’s newest tour began at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre just outside Atlanta on Nov. 29. Thanking the packed house for their enthusiasm, Amos said many times during the show that it was “good to be home,” and fans of vintage Amos could have said the same thing of her return to a certain musical form.
The ever-present guitar/bass/percussion ensemble she’s brought on many previous tours has been replaced with Apollon Musagète, a Polish string quartet who accompanied her during the majority of the two-hour set.
The quartet’s presence isn’t happenstance: Amos’s latest album and tour namesake, “Night of Hunters,” is about as classical as it gets save Amos’s soaring vocals.
Opening with a brief intro from the quartet and “Shattering Sea,” a complicated, dark piece from “Hunters,” Amos went straight into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” without the band, just to bring them back for a stringed version of “Suede.”
The re-imagining of “Suede” and other classics throughout the set list, which also included “Siren,” “Hey Jupiter,” “Cruel,” “Spark” and “Precious Things,” is a welcome return to Amos’s roots.
Rather than layering these live performances with guitars and heavy rock elements, the string accompaniment compliments the drama Amos is known for in her songwriting.
Those familiar with the Vitamin String Quartet’s two Amos tribute albums will hear similar threads in these new arrangements, but with a spin only Tori can bless with her talented touring quartet.
Other pieces with more logical string arrangements like “Leather, ” “Girl Disappearing,” “Maybe California,” “Fearlessness” and the impressively long “Star Whisperer” fit effortlessly into her string motif.
It all makes you wonder why it’s taken her so long to bring strings on tour.
Used to the rock ensemble she’s toured with in the past, I’m happy to report that even the show’s lesser known pieces were more palatable than on past tours. Maybe the audience wasn’t as familiar with or receptive to something like “Your Ghost,” off the new album, but the string ensemble made for less racket and more classic Amos on stage, regardless of familiarity.
Her solo work was as flawless as ever, treating fans to several intimate numbers including the Southern-inspired “Beulah Land,” an improv number about the old Bösendorfer piano she played, and the b-side “Honey.”
Initially unimpressed by Amos’s foray into classical music — however likely it may be — I’m officially converted if only because it gave her an excuse to bring the strings on tour.
If there is such thing as a Tori Amos fan’s fan, they cannot afford to miss this tour. Those longing for the Amos they knew back when can finally be satiated with this ever-pleasant foray into classical territory.
Here’s hoping for some excellent tour recordings and official bootlegs that would offer all fans a chance to celebrate this welcome return.
Top photo: Tori Amos (by Bo Shell)