Concert Review: Tori Amos, Santa Barbara 12/13/07

*excerpted from journal*

We decided that if we were to do any meet and greet on this trip, it ought to be Santa Barbara, so into the car we loaded our belongings – or rather, the incredibly helpful valet parking crew at the Hilton loaded the car – and we set off along the 101. Only Tori fans will immediately know why we dorked out and threw in Scarlet’s Walk for our road music, so allow me to explain for the non-Tori folk: in the song A Sorta Fairytale, track 2 on Scarlet’s Walk, Tori mentions travelling north along the 101. It seriously felt like we were retracing the path that inspired the song, with the beautiful views and the scent of ocean along the way. It was a fairytale, really.

Driving directions again proved super-easy to follow; I’m starting to love California roadtripping. We parked our car in a garage in Santa Barbara near the venue and wandered out onto the street. The area is very nice, and reminded me of Charleston, SC, with its early hours of closure, obviously wealthy area, and the unique and beautiful buildings everywhere. We located the venue, found one other person waiting, and settled in at the spot we found most logical for a meet and greet. Over the day, the crowd grew, and we spent time chatting with many people, including the lovely Alexa.

At one point, a homeless man wandered by and asked us what/who we were waiting for. After initially saying we were waiting for George Bush, we told the truth, which prompted him to repeatedly call Tori `Torrid Anus`. He then sat down on a nearby curb, ate cold chili from a can and dropped it all over himself, then munched some crackers before departing with his bicycle o`belongings (it was dragging this cart with garbage bags of things inside).

The meet and greet was cancelled, which kinda blew because we could have explored the beaches or shops had we known.

…What made it cooler was the show starting at 9pm here meant that in Toronto, it was my birthday, making the show kind of my birthday show. And what a show! No two doll combo, as we mused about after San Diego’s shocker, but it was a show filled with energy, debuts and songs I really wanted to hear.

Clyde opened our show, and the entire venue stayed on their feet for Bouncing Off Clouds. Tori should seriously play BOC at every show; it’s just way too much fun, like Big Wheel (which I’m glad she does do every night). Little Amsterdam was awesome tonight, as was Rattlesnakes – perhaps the best I’ve ever heard it, and that song tends to follow me around. Juarez was also tasty tonight. But the best awaited us in the main Tori set.

From Big Wheel, Tori broke into Parasol, my favourite song off the lacklustre album The Beekeeper, and one I’d never heard live. I’d heard bootlegs from the ’05 tour and found the song too slow live, but this version was the one I wanted to hear. The next song was a fantastic surprise: Spark. My favourite song. I cried again; it was a really good version, emotional, with key parts belted so perfectly. I’d passed a letter through Smitty earlier today and in it, I’d thanked Tori for honouring my Spark request in Toronto and commented that I felt this tour’s version was the best she’s ever done; I’m guessing she read it before the show. Lust was the only low of the show for me, and even that sounded better than it has on past tours. Black-Dove was a song high on my list of wants and I’m so glad her damn corset didn’t choke her into skipping the song this time!!

The solo section was intense; it began with Tori mentioning how she’s trying to honour as many requests as possible before the tour ends and “if your request doesn’t happen… too fucking bad!” Hilarious. From there, she launched into an intense improv that began with “She buried her soul today” and described the loss of a grandmother and a family standing together and burying her ‘wrapped in her songs’. It almost felt like its own song, which is one of the many reasons Tori awes me; the things she comes up with spontaneously can be incredible at times. She then launched into Alamo, which is a b-side she seldom plays. A heartbreaking version of it, this was. She then moved into Toast, another song from The Beekeeper I really love, but had to stop after a few lines because of tuning issues. Cue another improv song about having problems with her EQ and how she has a great sound guy but she’s driving him nuts because she’s “such an antfucker” about her songs. It wrapped with her declaring how when she was young, she did her own EQ and she’d find her own way to handle the venue’s sound. Toast was gorgeous, and felt very fitting given how close to the end we are.

How do you top amazing solo songs? You throw out two highly anticipated songs: Past The Mission (awesome!) and Talula, which was so incredible that it’s tied with my long-beloved Wallingford ’01 version as the best Talula ever. And of course Tori waited for a non-bootlegged show. Of course!!

Code Red has become more intense since I saw it in Toronto, and I am loving it. LOVE. Precious is of course full of win, and Tear In Your Hand was particularly poignant to me because soon, it really will be ‘time to wave goodbye now’. This tour really feels monumental, historical in the context of Tori’s career; even Tori commented that this has been the most incredible experience for her as a performer. Several of us have said it, and I’ll echo it here: LA finishing is going to bring me to tears. That last show is going to be amazing and break my heart all at once.

SETLIST – SANTA BARBARA 12/13/07

Clyde

Bouncing Off Clouds
Little Earthquakes
Juarez
Rattlesnakes
Little Amsterdam
Beauty of Speed

Tori

Big Wheel
Parasol
Spark
Cornflake Girl
Lust
Black-Dove (January)

Improv> ‘buried her today’
Alamo
Toast *screw up*
Improv> ‘Need my EQ’
Toast

Past The Mission
Talula
Code Red

Precious Things
Tear In Your Hand

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