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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, free newsweekly
November 1, 2007
In your ear
by Lilledeshan Bose
Reactions to Tori Amos are always polarized. The annoucement that "American Doll Posse," her ninth studio album, would be made up of songs written around five different characters - Isabel (the political one), Clyde (the idealist), Pip (the warrior), Santa (the sensual one) and Tori (a caricature of herself), all created to represent different aspects of Amos' personality - was met with both awe and condescension.
In studio, the idea of presenting personas that are, as most women are, "much more than the image they present to the world," seems pretty doable.
But Amos' ambition and talent was realized when she brought the concept to life. On the "American Doll Posse" tour, Amos opens each show as a different character (whose stories are based on Greek mythology), then finishes as Tori.
It's a challenge that not only uses her considerable musical skills, but also tests how well Amos can hold a character.
"It's more performance art than acting, because music is involved in all characters," she says.
Who opens the show isn't decided until sound check each night. Sometimes she tailors the characters to the city, but mostly it's the mood that day that decides whether Amos goes sexy or confrontational. "What happens is (a member of the posse) comes out first, plays for an hour and a half, then Tori comes out and responds," she explained. Because the show is always different, "no one (in the crew) can afford to get lazy," she said, laughing.
Most of the characters do cover Amos' older material; "Pip likes doing 'The Waitress,' and Santa likes 'Raspberry Swirl.' They get picked up by one of the other dolls to develop a narrative. . . . The shows keep changing; that's what keeps them alive," she said. (And no, she doesn't have a favorite: "They're all different, so you pull on them for different reasons.")
Mid-tour, Amos began making some concerts downloadable. Called the "Legs and Boots" series, it is mixed as the show happens, live, and then is online by 2 a.m. The Riverside show will be part of the series.
A live DVD of the "American Doll Posse" tour is in the works. "The dolls need to be documented, even if it's just so that when my daughter is a granny, and her daughter is giving her grief, she can say, 'Your great grandma was in rubber, so just stop,'" she said.
She also dropped news that might upset some fans: "After this tour, I'm not going to make a record right away." Instead, Amos is working on a musical comissioned by the British National Theater.
"I've given every ounce of my being into 'American Doll Posse.' . . . I have to do something else other than this (afterwards). I think that's fair."
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