Photos and Review by Chris Besaw and Camille Tisdel
Piano goddess, Tori Amos, gifted us with her presence and energy that made for a lively, nostalgic, and moving night of music. Stopping in at The Kodak Center in Rochester, NY on May 18, stop twenty-one of her forty show Ocean to Ocean Tour. She also brought along for the journey Gracie and Rachel. Tori showed she still has the vocals, power, and wit to make a room light up and fall in love with her.
Starting off the evening was the extraordinarily talented and eclectic chamber pop piano and violin duo, Gracie and Rachel. This two-piece consisting of Gracie Coates (pianist, keyboards, vocals) and Rachel Ruggles (violin and backing vocals) are on tour in support of their release Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong which was released on Righteous Babe Records. I must admit, I wasn’t sure how to describe their music, but luckily Gracie Coates summed it up perfectly by stating that it is, “music for people with anxiety.” I could relate to that. It was quite amazing to hear them combine pop elements of music with keyboards, drums, violin and some haunting vocals. A few songs that stood out to me were, “Stranger” and “Go.” It was also refreshing to see they had a humorous side to them, especially during their rendition of the Kreayshawn hit, “Gucci Gucci.” The duo played a thirty-minute set that left this new fan of their music, looking forward to checking out more of their stuff.
It was time for the evening’s headliner, the one and only Tori Amos. Although promoting her new album Ocean to Ocean, she played a wide mix of music from her repertoire, starting with tour staples “Juárez” and “Bouncing Off Clouds,” and going right into fan favorite “Caught a Lite Sneeze.” Backed by Ash Soan on drums and long-time collaborator Jon Evans on bass, they were the perfect complement to Tori, her keyboards and of course, her Bösendorfer piano.
A highlight of the show was a touching solo performance of “Oysters” from her album Unrepentant Geraldines. She shared with the audience that the song was not fan requested but was calling to her to be performed that evening. She grabbed sheet music and said a quick “good luck everybody” as a potential warning she was playing out of her comfort zone for this song, but there was no need. Tori has always been driven by the “muses” as she calls it and the muses served her well with this song. Just her, the piano, the audience, poignant lyrics (with a bit of ad lib) and you couldn’t help falling in love with her performance.
Other highlights of the show included moving performances of “Pretty Good Year,” “Girl,” and “Putting the Damage On,” which had more than a few fans tear up. Classics from her first three albums, they were such a treat, particularly for long-time Tori fans.
She ended the show with popular mainstays “Cornflake Girl” and “Precious Things,” with an energetic encore of “Take to the Sky” and “Raspberry Swirl.” The crowd was energized and loving every bit of it. A perfect end to what was already an incredible performance.
If you get the chance, make sure to catch one of her remaining shows on this tour. She hasn’t lost anything in her more than thirty years of touring and the crowd still loves every bit of it.