A resplendent show from Tori Amos in Boston: 11/2/17 Orpheum Theatre

Tori Amos has been making me feel all the things since before feeling all the things was even a thing.

My first time seeing her was at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA on April 27, 1992. This was of course the “Little Earthquakes” tour. The Iron Horse is a tiny, historic venue and my friends and I were the last ones in and because the place was already packed the three of us were seated on a bench just off the the side of the stage. In other words; insane seating that I’ll never forget. The 1992 version of myself sat there in awe of what transpired for the next hour and a half. From “Crucify,” “Precious Things,” “Silent All These Years” and the other-worldly title track it was a transfixing show from a woman who straddled her piano bench in a acrobatic way and who held my heart in her hand with every note sung and played. I’ll especially never forget when she hit us with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The wind was knocked out of me and I’ve been gasping for breath ever since. After the show my two friends and I tapped on the dressing room door and she opened it and welcomed us in where we sat and chatted for about 15 minutes. She was lovely. I’ve been a hardcore fan ever since and used to be a rabid collector or every Tori related thing I could get my hands on; mostly import CD singles with b-sides, live tracks, etc.  Because that’s how it was being a Tori fan. I was all in. I still am.

Since that first show in 1992 I would estimate I’ve seen Amos live about a dozen times.  Sometimes solo, sometimes with a band and always magnificent. I don’t mean to hit you with such a profound cliche but I’m goddamn going to. There is truly no one quite like her. Like many of her fans, I literally can’t imagine my life without the “Little Earthquakes,” album. Not to mention “Under the Pink,” “Boys for Pele,” etc etc etc. She writes from a place that not everyone can access. It’s like her brain and heart and soul all converge and the songs arrive from the sky on umbrella clasping pixies. Or something like that. We may never know. What I do know is that Tori Amos is one part goddess, one part genius, one part sorceress and one part tender-hearted human.  Listening to her music is is like visiting an astral plane. And it’s like therapy because she goes places with her songs that will rip your guts out and make you  weep like you’ve just discovered what crying is and you’re not sure if you’ll be able to stop.

Which brings me to last night’s show in at one my favorite spots on earth, the Orpheum Theatre in the heart of Boston.  It has been six years since my last Tori show and my fellow hardcore Tori fan and friend Laura and practically genuflected before walking in. This was, somehow perfectly, soon after walking right by another goddess outside the venue by the name of Amanda Palmer. But that’s a WHOLE other story.  My immediate reaction was to stop and talk to her but we kept on walking because, I don’t know, it seemed like the right thing  to do at that moment. I’ll be seeing Amanda’s band Dresden Dolls on Saturday night at The Paradise, also in Boston, so look for that review soon. But know this: I am almost surprised that the earth didn’t stop spinning for a few moments when both of these women were in the same room at the same time. Jesus. H. Christ.

Laura and I repaired to entirely wonderful seats about seven rows back in the center section of the balcony and enjoyed a nifty set from openers Scars on 45.

And then it happened. At about twenty past eight. The house lights dimmed and out walked Tori Amos dressed in a turquoise blue(ish) silk blouse, black leggings and her beloved high-heels. She gave us a wave and took her spot on the 18 inch high rectangular platform where she sat between two pianos, including her signature Bosendorfer grand. It was time for the Boston stop on her “Native Invader” tour to begin.

Despite still recovering from one of the world’s worst colds of my life, I for real stood up and screamed for joy. It could not be helped. Many of us did. Tori joy cannot and should not be contained.

Tori started the show off with “Ileee” from her 1998 album “From the Choir Girl Hotel” and a feeling of pure bliss overcame me. Nothing else in the world mattered other than this exact moment. This is rare for me, more rare than you can possibly know.

tori amos collage
Entirely unimpressive but none-the-less enthusiastically shot iPhone photos by yours truly, Aimsel Ponti.

And then Tori Amos played the second song of her show and Laura and I both had tears in our eyes.  For me, it was like 25 years of my life flashed before me. Emotions stabbed at me, old demons visited,  my heart felt like a pinata being shown no mercy. And I loved EVERY second of it. The song? “Little Earthquakes” with these lines:

Oh these little earthquakes
Here we go again
These little earthquakes
Doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces

And these lines: Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.

The song ended and I turned to Laura and said “the show could end now and that would be OK.”

Tori, however, was just getting started. She played another 15 songs spanning several albums including “Reindeer King” from the mesmerizing  “Native Invader.”

Tori pivoted on her stool back and forth from one piano to the other, never missing a beat.  On more than one occasion she played both pianos simultaneously.

I had several heart attacks during the show, especially during “Cooling,” “Northern Lad,” Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat,” Lloyd Cole’s “Rattlesnakes” and “Honey.”

She ended with “Beauty of Speed” but we knew she’s be back for an encore. A minute or so later, Tori walked back out on stage and stood before us. I did the only thing I knew how to do at that moment. I screamed “Precious Things” in the loudest voice I’ve probably ever used in my  entire life. And while I am not taking credit for it, I all but collapsed in a Tori Amos induced fever when she launched into the song.

Tori closed out the night with “A Sorta Fairytale.” I love the  song and although I may have chosen a different one to end with it did not detract from what was was a truly enthralling night of songs from one of my favorite artists. BTW, vocally, she’s sounding as strong, vibrant and well, Tori-esque as she ever has.

Tori Amos has 15 studio albums and about a zillion b-sides and such out in the world. It’s never too late to start your own voyage of discovery. Start with the new one “Native Invader” and work your way back. Or start somewhere in the middle. Or start with “Y Kant Tori Read” or the sacred “Little Earthquakes.” But prepare yourself for an emotional journey like none other.

And if you ever get the chance to see her live, either on this tour or the next one, GO SEE HER.

Ponti out.

 

 

 

 

 

7 New Songs I’m super excited about

seven  with photos AND TEXT.jpgIt’s the middle of September and I’m sitting here freakin’ the eff out with excitement over seven spectacular new songs that have come to my attention over the past couple of weeks.

I love you, Katie Herzig, Tori Amos, St. Vincent, The Wailin’ Jennys, Willie Watson, Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton and Amanda Palmer. SO VERY MUCH.

Let’s get right to it. Here are seven songs that I’m super excited about and  that I strongly suggest you listen to. Then, as always, follow these acts on social media,  get on their mailings list, buy their stuff, go see them live, and fall madly in love with them. Ponti out.


Katie Herzig Strangers
Photo courtesy of Katie Herzig via Bullhorn Publicity
  1. “Strangers” by Katie Herzig.

Hoorah!! Katie’s got a new album coming out in early 2018 called “Moment of Bliss.” Here’s what she said about “Strangers” in a press release:

‘Strangers’ is one of the first songs I wrote for the new album. Over time I fell in love with the simplicity and chillness of this song and wanted it to be the first on my record. Lyrically it digs into that vague feeling of discontentment that can chase us around in life, even when we have every reason to be content. I think when I wrote this song I was finding my way through that heaviness, but what I loved most about the song is that it felt like it knew how to get to me the other side of it. It gave me comfort over and over again as I worked on it and listen to it now.”

This new song is fantastic!!!

Here’s “Strangers”


Tori Amos Paulina Otylie Surys jpg
Tori Amos photo by Paulina Otylie Surys

2. “Cloud Rider” by Tori Amos.

Tori’s latest album “Native Invader” was released on Sept. 8 and I’m working my way through it like a child trying to open Christmas presents with some semblance of self-control. Countdown to her Nov. 2 show in Boston is on. Yes Tori, we will be riding out this storm.

Here’s “Cloud Rider”


Photo by Meredith Munn
Willie Watson photo by Meredith Munn

3. “Samson and Delilah” by Willie Watson.

Willie Watson released “Folksinger Vol. 2” on Sept. 15. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform in August at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival as part of Dave Rawlings Machine and saw him for the first time last year in North Carolina. ”

Here’s “Samson and Delilah”


Amanda Palmer by Kyle Cassidy
Amanda Palmer by Kyle Cassidy

4. “Drowning in the Sound” by Amanda Palmer

I don’t even know what to say about Amanda Palmer. Since first seeing Dresden Dolls at Space Gallery in Portland, Maine in 2005 I’ve been obsessed.

Here’s the deal with this INCREDIBLE song:

“this song was written as a two-day songwriting exercise on august 29th and 30th, 2017, using input/inspiration/comments from over 600 patrons . it wound up being a response to the insanity of internet politics melded with the recent total eclipse and the devastation of hurricane harvey….and, y’know…other stuff.

10% of the patreon profit, and 100% of the public profits (from iTunes, bandcamp, etc, for the month after release) will go to charity to aid the folks down in texas hit by the hurricane and if you’re feeling moved, please make a donation out of your own pocket.”

Here’s “Drowning in the Sound”


 

St. Vincent by Nedda Afsari
St. Vincent photo by Nedda Asfari

5. “Los Ageless by St. Vincent.

Annie Clark is back! The new album “MASSEDUCTION” is out on Oct. 13. She’s released a ton of HILARIOUS faux interview clips that are giving me anxiety if I, god for bid, ever get to actually interview her.  Take the time to watch them. The first single off of “MASSEDUCTION” is “New York” which is fucking brilliant (disclaimer: I only drop f bombs when absolutely necessary.)  Countdown to her Dec. 1 show in Portland, ME is SO ON.

Now there’s this one, “Los Ageless” HOLY SHIT. I want to do many things at once while listening to this song: Run, clean, dance and basically lose my mind.

Here’s “Los Ageless”


WailinJennys Photo MortenFog
The Wailin’ Jennys Photo by Morten Fog

6. “Wildflowers” by The Wailin’ Jennys.

They’ve done something sooooo great with an already excellent Tom Petty song. I adore this band so much and was so thrilled that they were part of the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in August.  Ruth, Heather and Nicky, it’s been a minute since your last album but it’s been SO WORTH THE WAIT. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it, especially Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart for a While.” In fact I might just go ahead and schedule a good cry for the moment I first hear it. The covers album called “Fifteen” is out on Oct. 27.

Here’s “Wildflowers”


Jolie Holland Samantha Parton
Image courtesy of Cinquefoil Records

7. “You Are Not Needed Now” by Jolie Holland and Samatha Parton.

I’ve known about Jolie for years and now am all about Samatha. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of “Wildflower Blues” and instant gratification can be yours, the album’s out now.

Here’s “You Are Not Needed Now”

14 brutally sad – yet fantastic- songs for Valentine’s Day

Charles M. Schulz got it right with this 1967 gem of a book which, thanks to a yard sale a couple of years ago, I am the proud owner of. It’s true. Happiness IS a sad freakin’ song, especially one that is well written and sung with just the right amount of desperation and sincerity.

happiness-is-a-sad-song-book

I don’t mean songs like Erin Carmen’s “All By Myself” (with all due respect). I’m talking about ones a bit off the mainstream path that pack way more of an emotional punch for this gal.

So in honor or the 14th of February, let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with this collection of 14 brutally sad yet outstanding songs about love, the human heart and the various forms of related suffering.

Ready? Set? Heartbreak!

ONE: “1000 Oceans” by Tori Amos. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. But my oh my.

TWO: “Somebody” by Depeche Mode. For no other reason than the longing in Martin Gore’s voice. This song has been making me feel all the things for decades.

THREE: “I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths. Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I don’t think this one needs an explanation. And let’s be honest, this entire post could be ALL Smiths songs. God I love them. Oh well…enough said.

FOUR: “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. This song slays me. It’s not specifically “sad” but just so overwhelmingly powerful and emotional. Frankie say tears! p.s. listen to the song with your eyes closed. The video’s kinda nutty. “Love is like an energy…rushing inside of me”

FIVE: “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice. There is literally nothing I can say about this. Nothing.

SIX: “Never Be Mine” by Kate Bush. She’s a goddess. This song’s insane. Meaning perfect.

SEVEN: “This Year’s Love” by David Gray. Because “when you kiss me on that midnight street, sweep me off my feet” is one of the greatest lines ever written. Oh and the entire song will rip your heart out.

EIGHT: “A Soft Place to Land” by Kathleen Edwards. Kathleen Edwards is one of my reasons for living. This song. The violin, the words. All of it. Take a whole lot of deep breaths before listening to this extra amazing live version.

NINE: “You Left It Up To Me” by Indigo Girls. Achingly sad and therefore I love it  And the harmonies are really great.

TEN: “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance” by Sinead O’Connor. This one will rip you apart at the seams but will also remind you of HOW SPECTACULAR Sinead is.Extra great live version for added Sinead bliss.

ELEVEN: “That Wasn’t Me” by Brandi Carlile. If you know it then you probably already love it and if it’s your first time hearing it then get ready to have the wind knocked out of you.

TWELVE: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Excruciating. But I’ve also heard it entirely too many times so it doesn’t kill me nearly as much as it used to.

THIRTEEN: “Crying” by KD Lang. I know, I know. It’s a Roy Orbison classic. But this one kills me more than even Roy’s version. Just listen. Especially when Lang’s vocals really get going.

FOURTEEN: “Monoply” by Shawn Colvin. I love every single song on her “Fat City”album and this one is devastating. Every single second of it. Sheer perfection.