Tori Amos Pic: Cole Maguire
Tori Amos Pic: Cole Maguire

Riverside Theatre

Tuesday November 18, 2014

Melbourne singer/songwriter Matt Walters came to the stage all in black and looked like almost every other solo performer that you have ever seen. What he did have going for him was a cheerful delivery and a batch of road hardened songs from his newly released NightWalk. The tall singer is a friend of Megan Washington and has the awkwardness of a young Ben Lee and the voice not unlike John Mayer. His brief set won over a crowd who embraced his banter as they paid respect to quiet moments like Hard Luck, the slow burn of St Peter’s Gate and the more upbeat Melbourne Goodbye.

Tori Amos may have nudged past the age of 50 yet you would be forgiven for wondering if she has been raised by elves such in the freshness in her face, with only the addition of a pair of fashionable spectacles hinting at any mortal decline. After 14 albums Amos presence can be taken for granted, but her skills can not be denied. The opening strains of Parasol left no doubt of her classical training both on the piano and with her haunting mezzo-soprano voice.

The piano can be an unsociable instrument for those viewing any type of recital, but Amos is a master of drawing the crowd in. Amos spent much of the night straddling a piano stool to create a posture that looked awkward, but allowed her to maintain contact with the crowd whilst simultaneously playing the grand piano and an electric piano stationed behind her.

Amos fans are diehard supporters who hang off her every word as they immerse themselves in her aching tales. The song that first brought her to attention Silent All These Years was offered early, in a setlist that gave a little something for everyone as she mined various corners of her catalogue.

The simple stage and lighting only added to the ambience as Amos made theatrical hand gestures and smiled to the crowd during song. Snow Cherries From France and Taxi Ride were played amongst covers like Springteen’s I’m On Fire or Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole, which was turned totally on its head by the enigmatic performer. There may have been a 42-piece orchestra at the recent Sydney show, yet Amos had no trouble holding the room in the palm of her hand without any assistance this time out.

When Amos returned for an encore the crowd stood for her best known tune Cornflake Girl.  The song was accompanied by a backing track with a mildly distorted rhythm section and backing vocals. When the same effect was used of 16 Shades Of Blue, it was as if the audience had stumbled into a different gig after the short break. Normal transmission was resumed when Amos closed with the sedate Baker Baker.

An evening with Tori Amos is more like going to a show than just a run of the mill gig, such is the nature of her performance. Two hours is a long time to be entertained by just the one person, but there would have been no one complaining after this evening’s effort.