By Ken Clarke
This retrospective CD serves as a virtual time capsule, capturing two mesmerizing performances of Tori Amos singing and playing solo piano at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival.
The first half of the disc features a then unknown Amos from 1991. Recorded months before the release of her first album Little Earthquakes, the unsuspecting audience is treated to fresh takes of newly-written gems. Although new to audiences at the time, her vocals sound genuine and urgent while her piano playing is simply brilliant.
The second half is from 1992, a few months after the success of Little Earthquakes. Only a year later, it reveals a less innocent and more polished musician. Amos is more at ease while fiercely dynamic.
While the bulk of both sets contain tracks from Little Earthquakes, live cover versions of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” and “Whole Lotta Love” plus a sensitive rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are little treats in between Amos’ stylings. She masterfully reinterprets these songs, making them sound like her own compositions.
On the companion DVD, the evolution between the two shows is even more evident. Looking less like the girl next door and more like the sensuous diva, her innocent smiles become more sneer-like and she is not above berating certain audience members for talking during a song.
What is most evident about both concerts is simply the power and majesty Amos can demonstrate all by herself. During the applause for her 1991 a capella version of “Song For Eric,” she tells the crowd, “You’ve gotta do something when you don’t have a band.”