Had I not known I was at a Tori Amos concert, I would have not recognized the bleach blond vixen who took the stage at the Paramount in Oakland last Friday night. This tour is in support of her very swank album American Doll Posse. The cover shows Tori in various wigs and outfits. As you experience the album, you discover that each character is a different aspect of Tori’s personality, each sings a few songs, sometimes one will do backup vocals for another.

tori amos santa oaklandTori took the stage, as “Santa Bösendorfer“. She is the Aphrodite of the posse, beautiful, graceful, and at times, a little racy with lots of self fondling and a few wild gyrations that brought peals of cheers from the crowd. She looked utterly fabulous in a strapless black baby doll and blood red stilettos. At one point Santa produced a jug of red liquid, poured a glass for the boys in the band, then proceeded to dab it on her chest and arms. A baptism of sorts I thought. Santa has her own Myspace page. Her motto is “Beauty. What is that to you?”. According to that page she is female, 88 years old, from Venus, Texas. Born in Valley of the Queens and she is a Gemini. Tori explained the persona, “Because the Aphrodite archetype has turned into madness and perversion, and Santa is trying to work through this by having love for the female body and self-respect”. Santa played and performed her songs from the album for the first half of the evening. In my opinion, the best song on the set (and of the album) was a haunting little ditty called Body and Soul
“In my temple boy be warned
Violence doesn’t have a home now but ecstasy
that’s as pure as a woman’s gold”

tori amosSanta left the stage while the band played on, then returned as Tori. This Tori was not our sweet ripple haired songstress, but that night she was a Tori archetype. She switched out the blond bob for a carrot orange mane, and a orange sequin one armed jumpsuit, that brought to mind Cher circa 1979. Her movements were now more subtle, with occasional head flips to emphasize her lyrics. As Tori, she played her classics, very heartfelt and quite wonderfully. At one point she introduced her hair and makeup guy who came out to brush out her glorious wig. She began to banter about how she can never do her own make up, so when she is not on tour people approach her saying “you look like that singer…. but of course, she is much younger”. She also told us how her daughter prefers it when she straightens her hair so she doesn’t look like a poodle. These self deprecating remarks were a sharp contrast to the vampy Santa’s self loving attitude. I think she gave that speech to let us know that even our heroes and idols have issues with our selves.

I must say, at $55 for an orchestra seat, this was the best concert bargain of the year. Tori fans are really beautiful. Not overdone, but just done enough. I think I saw only a few t-shirt and jeans combos. The tour swag was smart and fun. I’m still lamenting I didn’t invest in a baseball ringer-t that read “I’m for peace bitch!”.