Tori Amos’ recent performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall served as an emotional reminder for Sophie Mayer of the power of song, and of teenage memories
I confess: I vote Tori. I have since 1991, when I saw her supporting… I’ve forgotten who. Blown out of my mind by the as-yet-unknown Ms Amos coming onstage in a paint-spattered tunic, tights and espadrilles; the last of which she left ceremonially at the front of the stage, before she sat down to play “Crucify.” Twenty years later, I can still hear the nervous gulp of the guy sitting next to me as she unleashed the song.
So this review of her most recent tour, for the new album Night of Hunters, which I saw at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 November, is biased, and unapologetic for being so: I’m out. For a long time, I disguised my Toriphile tendencies behind ardour for cooler musicians and bands, from Björk and PJ Harvey through Kristin Hersh and Kathleen Hanna to Jean Grae and Speech Debelle. As Tiger Beatdown’s amazing Sady Doyle, wrote in Bitch recently, many Tori fans have found themselves in the same situation – as if admitting to being a Tori fan is as shaming as confessing to some of the topics she sings about, from masturbation to suicide to abuse.
But the truth is, that without that unexpected encounter in 1991, I may never have been switched on to feminist performers, or feminism itself, or to all the singers and thinkers who helped me while working through adolescence and, later, coming out as an incest survivor. So going to a Tori show is as close as I come to a religious experience. (Religion being an experience I generally try to avoid).