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Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Evening on the Upper West Side, starring Tori Amos

Turns out the Suburban Man is able to act his age.  Dare I say mature?  Sophisticated?  Let's not push it.

But on a glorious Decembers' evening in New York City all the stars aligned.  First there was a 5pm train to Penn Station.  Flawless and actually relaxing.  Boy, the vibe on the Friday evening train looks and feels much different than Monday mornings.  Teen girls were updating statuses and giggling.   First or second dates were busy showing interest in one another.  Tourists prepared themselves for a night on the town.  Something about genuine excitement that gets things started nicely.

Naturally the smartphone was utilized to search/find/make a reservation for a restaurant.  The process of picking a cuisine, surveying the neighborhood, then booking the 7pm table took about 5 minutes.  At 6:30 were on the Upper West Side enjoying a lovely meal at Pappardella.   The whole thing was a whirlwind.  We sat down, had 3 courses (try the Wish Mushroom Cream Sauce Pasta and Bruschetta Appetizer) and were out by 7:15.  A worthy little spot should you be near Lincoln Center or the Beacon Theatre.

The Beacon was the reason for the trip.  Last night Tori Amos played to a packed and jubilant crowd.   Ms Amos recorded her first album back in 1988.  Her sophomore effort, Little Earthquakes, was in every college girls cd collection during the grunge days.  Yes I am including myself when I mention college girls.  Stop pretending you don't sing along to "Crucify" when you hear it.  And at 48 she still violates her piano stool with other-worldly eroticism.

She can play that thing a little bit too.  But boy can she sing.  Her voice moves from whispers to howls.  There is a playful rage at times.  Everything though is very much under control.  You get that impression the moment she arrives on stage.  She calmly strides stage right under the spotlight and bows to the ground both hands forward.  Her long white dress looks like something out of a Roman Catholic priests closet.  Same cannot be said for her 6" high fire engine red heels.  Or maybe it can.

This is probably as close I will get to a classical music concert.  There was a time in college my ear was good enough to differentiate composers and centuries.  Now I'm lucky if I recognize an instrument.  Thankfully a string quartet is easy to comprehend.  Amos has employed  Polish string quartet Apollon Musagète for this leg of the tour.  Last night was their first performance in New York.  The results were all quite good.  The musicians have a distinct sound and deft touch similar to the rock acts I have seen this year.  This was evident as Amos allowed them to play an original song "A Multitude of Shades" for the first of her encores.   Shades of peace were met with shades of dissonance.  Fun and smart stuff.  Take a peek here for the entire playlist and some sound:

There was never a question on who was boss.  Her solo piano cover of Fleetwood Mac was soft and beautiful.  The wife sitting next to me was brought to tears.  She played "Leather" with a delta blues vibe.  "Cloud on My Tongue" and "Jackie's Strength" were other standouts from s ballad heavy show.   Her encores "Precious Things and Big Wheel" were the boldest and loudest songs of the evening.   The final track continued her blues meets classical approach.    Hard to imagine another performer yelling "I am an M I L F don't you forget" with such conviction.  Ms Amos you are badass.  No argument.

Gonna stop short of saying another Amos concert is mandatory.  And it goes without saying that she ain't for everyone.  What should be pretty clear is  civilized and cultural night out of your comfort zone is pretty cool.  

An adult evening at a concert hall.  A walk down the Upper West Side window shopping and admiring the Christmas decorations.  Not one drink of alcohol.  

Maturity?  Possible I guess.   Long overdue some would say.  We will see how long it lasts.  Does Christmas Vacation in the living room count?

For more please check out these sites.  Amos is still touring and the Beacon is terrific. 

Live clips:  
"Leather"  Good stuff from an AandE show a few years back.  Her and a piano.  All you really need.
"Big Wheel"  She had serious fun with this last night.  
"Precious Things"  Probably her callling card.  
"Cornflake Girl" The One I wish she would have played last night.  You can't have it all.

Some pics from the walk from 75th to 59th.  An absolutely beautiful night.  You forget how special Manhattan is, especially around Christmas.  Lincoln Center is amazing.  Columbus Circle brings back memories of Scorsese and "Taxi Driver."  Maybe more recently Donald Trump and "The Apprentice."  Even the Time Warner Center has a new charm to it.  I tried not to hate Times Square too.  Until next time.

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Thanks guys for indulging!!!

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