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June 21, 1996
The Unforgettable Performance
By Tiffany Buchanan
The fiery and talented Tori Amos has captivated audiences worldwide through her innocent demeanor, mood-oriented expression and unforgettable performances. Amos' manager, Arthur Spivak of Spivak Entertainment, refers to her current tour as one that creates "a subtle and full religious experience."
Amos says she hopes her shows are "a full-body experience." Spivak and Amos have worked in sync for six successful years. He considers the coincidence of their meeting in a Los Angeles restaurant "very good luck." One would have to agree, considering both Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink sold 2 million copies each. Her latest Atlantic release, Boys for Pele, is at 900,000 and climbing.
Carole Kinzel of CCAA is Amos' responsible agent. "We call her the other red-head," Amos says with a laugh. ITB books Amos internationally. Touring in support of Boys for Pele, Amos will perform nearly 200 shows in venues with up to 5,000 capacity. She has already performed more than 40 sold-out shows. Amos' touring plans will keep her in the United States through the end of the year. Amos notes that she enjoys college audiences and is adamant that she spend time visiting with fans after a show. These 15-minute visits (which take place on the way to the bus) are vital in keeping her in touch with her audiences' perspective, she notes. Remaining audience-conscious, ticket prices remain at the low end of the spectrum, says Spivak.
Working closely with Bruce Fingeret and Mike Rotando of F.E.A., Inc., Amos remains involved in the marketing and design of her merchandise. "She is totally involved with her merchandise. She knows what she wants and how she wants it," says Spivak. In addition to t-shirts and programs, there are also baseball jerseys, necklaces and baby doll shirts. Prices range from $10 to $30.
On The Road
Three Four Seasons buses, two Roadshow trucks, a 30-member crew and a catering service, Eat Your Hearts Out USA, Ltd., accompany Amos and guitar player Steve Caton on the road. Projections are provided by PSL, Inc. To the surprise of her road manager and "comrade," John Witherspooin, Amos is enjoying her first tour via land. "I am really into this bus thing," she says. "I like the schedule. I find I get more time to go read and just relax."
A hands-on artist, Amos explains to her crew what stage design she needs in order to turn around and play any one of the four possible instruments on stage. They, in turn, come up with a solution. She tells her crew, "I need to be able to turn around and play this thing. You figure out how to do it." Giving credit where credit is due, Amos says Witherspoon is responsible for building such an incredible crew. "He keeps the train running," she notes.
Amos has the same sound crew that she's used for her last two albums, but Mark Hawley is now house sound mixer. Hawley was the only one who asked Amos, "Why are you recording Boys for Pele like it doesn't have the power that it has? Why aren't you taking this where Metallica would take it? Why aren't you respecting the power of your left hand?"
Designed to accomodate her shift in instruments, the set captures the intimacy of her performance. Behind her are colorful moving drapes and a screen with visual layers, that creates the image of a "journey." The harpsichord and harmonium have hinges, and through the use of risers, both have the ability to "go away" in a process Amos refers to as "getting hitched." She wants these two instruments to be almost touching.
A Learning Process
Touring is demanding, both mentally and physically, and it is no different for Amos, who sometimes performs two shows a night with multiple instruments on stage. She says there are days when she is tired, but this tour is a learning experience. "I'm finally learning what some of these songs mean," Amos says with a laugh.
Amos plays the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles June 28-30. "I've never played the Greek, so I can't tell you what that's like," she says, "but I have played the Theatre at Madison Square Garden and liked it."
When mentioning London's Royal Albert Hall as the type of venue that expresses the intimact she is looking to achieve, she admits, "Every theater is different, so it really depends on the layout. I've been in venues half the size of the Albert Hall that are so impersonal. It really just depends on the design."
Sometimes what Amos sizes up to be a good room, isn't. But she knows she is there to perform and to pull the team around her. Why some venues work and others don't remains a mystery to her.
Amos hasn't always had the frame of reference to compare such venues as The Theatre at Madison Square Garden and The Royal Albert Hall. Honing her skills at clubs for 14 years, six nights a week before Little Earthquakes broke left quite an impression on her. She says, "You can't take away the calluses, the certain muscles that developed, or the fact that you get older," she says. "You also can't take away that you get older. So there's a real balance to be had."
Balancing the Gift
"It is very important for Tori to connect with her audience -- they're her inspiration," says Spivak. "I think the one thing about playing for so many years is that you really begin to get the exchange. You understand that you need the feedback. You can either take it and grow from it, or toss it out the window if you don't agree with it. It gives you the opportunity to keep the hierarchy thing from happening."
Amos views her talent as no different than that of an athlete. "They have a rhythm," she says. "You have a rhythm and you do it because it's not your job, it's part of your life. It becomes a gift."
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[transcribed by jason/yessaid; scan by Kristal Russell]
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