Tori Amos is playing the Beacon Theatre Friday and Saturday. You might still be able to get tickets. But should you? It’s quite the conundrum. Tori Amos’ body of work is all but bulletproof…up to a point, and her lyrical fixations and aesthetic choices tend to inspire either adoration or revulsion. And there’s the holiday album to parse.
If you really liked “Silent All These Years” and “Caught A Lite Sneeze” back in the day but lost track of her over the years, should you try and make it out? Once again, Let Nonstop Sound help you with this difficult decision.
Pro: “Past The Mission,” “Crucify,” “Professional Widow,” “Silent All These Years,” “A Sorta Fairytale.” We could go on. Tori has written kingdoms-worth of deeply humane, sonically-daring, creatively arranged and often very catchy songs that examined power structures, misogyny, sexual politics, religion and a lot of other topics that most songwriters aren’t brave enough to tackle. Depending on the situation, she could be open-hearted, sultry or some kind of warrior goddess, while never losing track of her unique world view.
Con: Isn’t she the woman that writes all those songs about fairies?
Pro: She’s been known to use mythological archetypes and literary allusion to add context and gravitas to her themes. It’s all very Joseph Campbell.
Con: Dude. Take your Joseph Campbell name drop back to your MFA program and admit she’s a fairy woman.
Pro: It’s really a very unfair stereotype.
Con: To the Google!
Pro: Wait, I don’t think that’s necessary…
Con: From her 1998 Rolling Stone cover story: "'I want to torture the people who don't understand the world of faeries,' fumes Amos with almost church-lady righteousness. 'You'll get some reporter from Vogue who doesn't know what she's talking about, who prints me as some insipid Tinker Bell character - well, Tinker Bell ain't up my Strasse, baby. I'm not some shivering waif in the forest. Sometimes I want to grab these b****** by the hair and take them to the world of faerie and say, 'Would you repeat that?''”
Pro: Okay, you’ve made your point.
Con: There’s more! "People can be so vicious toward the imaginary world, and it saddens me. You kill a lot of little people’s dreams that way. You're no different from Hitler, as far as I'm concerned."
Pro: Look, do you really think that even half of all rappers are really involved in the glamorous criminal conspiracies they brag about? Even Rick Ross doesn’t expect you to believe him. Do you think metal bands think you think that they actually murder people and worship Satan? (Besides the Swedish ones). Her “fairy woman” thing, as you so delicately termed a brilliant artist, is a construct she needs to get in to the mindframe she needs to do her best work. The fact of the matter is that very few artists have ever had as artistically rewarding streak as Amos did from Little Earthquakes to From The Choirgirl Hotel. Scarlet's Walk was pretty solid also.
Cons: The ’90s were a long time ago, dude. Were you really feeling Abnormally Attracted To Sin?
Con: Your silence won’t protect you.
Pro: She’s been a professional recording artist since the ’80s, or 1992 if you want to pick Little Earthquakes as the start. With any career lasting that long, there are ups and downs, especially with an artist that never goes more than three years without releasing something. She’s made her share of transcendent work, and she’s had her forgettable albums, and the bad albums don’t negate what she’s achieved. And her new album is very good.
Con: Tell me about it.
Pro: It’s called Night of Hunters, it’s a story-cycle about a woman's spiritual and romantic rebirth and, in her words, "the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us," it is based on classical compositions from Sebastian Bach and Erik Satie and those kind of people.
Cons: That sounds unbearable.
Pro: It's her best work in a while, and nowhere near as stuffy as it sounds. The stripped-down production and chamber music instrumentation really gives her room to breathe, melody wise, and she interprets these standards in very unexpected ways.
Con: Okay, but explain this Christmas album. That album cover is a crime.
Pro: Lovely version of "Star of Wonder" on there.
Con: Her cover of "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is terrible.
Pro: Her cover of "Thank You" is great.
Con: Didn't she freak out on some audience members for talking at her show?
Pro: That's a complaint? People who talk during concerts suck. Good for her for throwing them out.
Con: Actually...yeah. Those people do suck. I guess the fairy woman isn't so bad after all.