"We've imported um, a pianist for the next song. Let me make sure we're in tune... [Al talks to the audience while tuning his guitar] ... Anyway, we have um, Vilnia Chukovskaya, who is a Russian pianist who knows not a word of English, and knows not much about English music, apart from the fact that she's learnt one of my songs. Will you please welcome Miss Vilnia Chukovskaya!" [applause, Tori Amos walks out, sits down, and starts playing the piano]...
Tori Amos told the following story during a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London on October 29, 1999:
I don't know if you all know this, but I've played this place before. And um, but I didn't play it as me. And uh...
[someone in the audience shouts, "Now's your chance!"]
Huh? I know, it is my chance, isn't it? But this is the thing, if it doesn't go well for me tonight, I can't like, say it was my first time. So um, the thing is, in 1991, I think -- Mom, it was in 1991, right? I think it was. And I got a phone call from somebody and he goes, "Tori, my piano player is sick. Will you come to the Festival Hall and like, fill in?" And I said, "Um, well, I do know the song." And so I said, "What's wrong with him?" And he goes, "Well, he's got the Russian flu." And I said, "Definitely, I'll come. Just make sure he doesn't get better." I said, "It's a long train ride for me, so I'm coming in, don't fuck me over." So I show up and Al Stewart said to me, you know, "You know this 'Year of the Cat' song?" I said, "Of course, of course, I'm born the year of the cat, I know all about it." And I said, "There's only one problem -- I can't play as me because um, I um, have a passport problem." And he said, "Do you really think that anybody from Passport Control is concerned about what you're doing tonight?" I said, "Well, maybe, you know, just maybe. I'm playing this big gig at the Mean Fiddler, and I'm opening for seven people and I can't blow that." And so um, he said to me, "Ok, well, you'll be Vilnia Chukovskaya." And that's who I was.
[Special thanks to Nancy for generously donating the video and to Richard Handal for providing the impetus for putting together the project of acquiring PAL videotape and having it converted to NTSC, after a tip from Mike Gray saying it was up for auction on the UK ebay.]
t o r i p h o r i a tori amos digital archive yessaid.com