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Salt Lake Tribune (US)
Salt Lake City, Utah, newspaper
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thursday only: Tori and Billy at the pianos

Amos brings politically-charged message to the E Center

by David Burger
The Salt Lake Tribune

Instead of dueling banjos, Thursday will be about dueling pianos.

Tori Amos and Billy Joel will play their pianos the same night, eight miles apart: Joel at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, and Amos at the E Center in West Valley City.

Amos is touring with world musician Yoav in support of her ninth studio album, "American Doll Posse."

After the failure of a late '80s band called "Y Kant Tori Read" failed, Amos went solo. Using the piano as a focal point, she became a critically acclaimed artist who unflinchingly sang about sexuality, religion and individuality. Her first album, "Little Earthquakes" begat singles like "Crucify" and "Silent All These Years," and she gained an early reputation for radical reworkings of songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Angie." As her career progressed, the firebrand delved more into electronica and developed a touring band, but always attacked the piano like a fellow redhead, Jerry Lee Lewis.

While her albums continue to be deeply personal and often devastating, this time she's more focused on politics. Angry, straightforward songs like "Yo, George" are a change of pace for a singer who often writes cryptically.

"Where are my current sisters?" Amos asked in a phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. "How can you not stand up to an administration of right-wing Christian authority honoring male authority?"

Her religious upbringing continues to inform her work.

"As a good minister's daughter, you have to fight ideology with ideology," she said. "Words can be more powerful than any weapon."

She doesn't consider herself an odd fit for red-state Utah.

"I always like coming there," she said, adding that she has family in the area who have helped her trace her ancestry. "I have Young Republicans coming to my shows. I open my door to them. It's not about a party, it's about consciousness."

As for her upcoming show, Amos said, "I don't play heavy on the new record."

She said she doesn't see her old songs as old. "They walk with me, and they still walk with me," she said.

Amos hand-picked Yoav to open for her. Raised in South Africa and Israel, Yoav is an innovative guitar player who told The Tribune he considers himself a DJ with an acoustic guitar.

"I've never been much good with technology," Yoav said. "[I asked myself], How can I incorporate hip-hop into just me and the guitar?"

He found his way by using his whole hands to attack the instrument, reverberating strings and using the scratch plate as a drum.

Neither Amos nor Yoav is intimidated by Billy Joel playing the same night. But both consider him an influence.

"When I was first beginning to write songs, I would listen to the Beatles and Billy Joel," said Yoav, who's seen Joel in concert.

Amos said, "If I had a night off, I'd go see Billy."


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