Tori Stalking ’09 Day One: Toronto 8/10/09

Vacation begins!

Currently cruising en route to Montreal with Suze, Michael and Carole while catching up on blogging. Catch-up never ends on the road; thank Goddess for laptops.

The first day of my eight days of freedom began with frantic errands before bolting down to the meet and greet at Massey Hall. The weather called for thunderstorms, sparking serious fears that meet and greet would be cancelled, which made me very unhappy as Toronto was my only shot at speaking to Tori. However, in a moment that seemed so strangely cosmic it could only happen on tour, the sun came out, shining brightly, right as Tori’s bus pulled up to the venue. I guess Tori learned her lessons from Welcome to England and remembered to ‘bring her own sun’ to Toronto? We saw Tash, who is getting so big! This in turn made me feel old, as the last time Tori played Massey Hall, Tash was an infant and Suze and I fangirled over seeing her crib being unloaded.

Jared and I were staked out at the front of the line, with Ottawa Ashley soon joining us. The meet and greet crowd was strangely unfamiliar to me – usually I recognize plenty of faces. By the time Tori came out, shortly after two, we had maybe 40 people waiting. We were told that due to Tori being pressed for time, we could either get an item signed OR a photograph; I opted for a photo since I don’t like a single one of the photos I’ve taken with Tori over the years.

Tori came out, dressed in a cute black and white outfit, and we slowly began filing up to meet her. When I reached her, she gave me our usual ‘how are you?’ of familiarity. She started to reach out to shake my hand, smiled and shrugged, then threw her arms open for a hug, which I gratefully accepted. I handed her my letter and told her that it explained the whole story behind it, but asked if she could do Roosterspur Bridge either in Toronto or Montreal, as it had been a tremendous comfort during my grandfather’s cancer and death. Her face was very sad and she nodded very definitively. Our picture snapped courtesy of Tori’s new bodyguard, I moved on, waiting for Jared and Ashley.

I ran into Suze and the regulars crew at the end of the line and said hi, then Jared, Ashley and I bolted off to Proud FM to see if Tori’s scheduled interview was live or not. On our way, we passed a very cracked out guy who was masturbating through his thin basketball shorts while walking down Yonge street. Um, wow. Mindbleach please! The interview turned out to be pre-recorded, so we headed to Fran’s across from Massey for wraps and drinks.

Tori tour is such a strange and surreal experience. There are so many faces you grow to recognize, people you’ve seen in countless cities. It’s like one big group catch-up after another. I love it.

Suze and our group totally skipped OneEskimo and headed to our seats late for the show. We decided that Toronto was disgustingly overpriced and opted to party in the balcony instead. Our view was incredible anyway; such is the design of Massey Hall. Neil Gaiman was in attendance but I didn’t get to speak to him.

Tori sounds wonderful this tour; her voice is strong and rich, and she is very obviously having the time of her life with this tour. She’s into it, much moreso than the Original Sinsuality/Summer of Sin tour in 2005. Opening with Give (great choice of opener), Tori quickly moved into the first ‘Neil’ song of the night, Hotel (for the non-fans, Tori and Neil are close and she frequently namechecks him or his work in her music). Anything Choirgirl is win in my books. She then sang Happy Birthday to bassist Jon Evans before continuing on for the night.

The setlist was one that I loved, with a couple of exceptions, but it was a strange set. I know a LOT of tour followers found it flat and dull, and it was a very mellow set. That said, the songs chosen were all one that are solid staples I never mind hearing, and almost all of them were so relevant to my life right now that Tori literally could have checked my iTunes and plucked the set from there. The only down notes were Concertina and Mother Revolution.

A few song by song notes:

Cornflake Girl: Suze agreed with me that at one point, Tori sang, “Where’d you put the cheese girl?” by mistake, which left me rolling, as those of us who’ve seen a ton of shows have taken to singing it that way as a joke.

The Power of Orange Knickers: A tour debut and a song I’d never heard before. Tori stuck very true to the studio recording on this one, but it was done well. She dropped the high part from the very end down an octave, but it was still a pleasure to hear.

Welcome to England: Fantastic live, and I totally called it for the show. And considering the above story of Tori bringing the sun? Awesome. Whoever requested it, thank you!

Bells For Her: Just before the ‘Bells and footfalls’ verse, Tori began repeating, “Bells and soldiers and devils” and went on an improv before returning to the song’s verse. Haunting and eerie. I love the new arrangement.

Carbon: It’s about damn time this happened with the band, and it’s awesome, everything I was hoping for live from the moment I first heard Scarlet’s Walk. Matty definitely gets to showcase his drumming on this one.

Mother: This was probably one of the best versions of this song I have heard live. Tori’s voice was crisp and clear, and very emotive. I was in tears, I was so overwhelmed.

Roosterspur Bridge: This began with a haunting improv, one that immediately tugged at me and clued me in that Tori was going to deliver. She sang of ‘feeling the land’ and ‘feeling you in the land, in the water, on this bridge’ and a line about ‘lovers of the land’ and finishing with ‘I feel you still’ or that effect. In my letter, I’d said exactly that: that I could feel my grandfather everywhere with me, wherever I go, whenever I miss him. The water in particular is where I feel closest to him. The version she did of this song was very sombre, and her voice was absolutely breathtaking. She was very into it, and I spent the entire song weeping. I love it more now. It was our second debut of the night, and I know it’s not a popular song with fans as it’s fairly generic, but I always enjoyed it, even before it became so relevant and memory-laden.

Strong Black Vine: Oh hell YES this is amazing live! It’s even better than the studio cut, and I love that. It’s become the new Waitress, right down to the building rage of the outro she improvs. YES.

Big Wheel: I will never ever tire of this song. It’s fun, it makes Tori giggle and dance like a little girl, and we get to clap and sing along.

After the show, I was surprised with a very special gift: Jared had nabbed the setlist for me. My first Tori setlist, after 31 shows! Such a thoughtful gesture. The show was cut short due to curfew, which is a shame since Body and Soul and Raspberry Swirl were both meant to be encores. There were also two typos: ‘A Sort Of Fairytale’ and, the most apt typo ever, ‘Mother Revoltion’. Revolted is right; I confess I spent the entire song checked Twitter updates.

After arranging plans for Montreal, I headed home for my last night in my own bed and last minute packing. My furbabies were clingy kittens, and I cuddled with them. I always miss them terribly on the road. Someday, I will win the lottery and be able to take them with me in my tour bus that I intend to purchase.

All in all: great friends, great show, 7 new songs for my stats and, oh yes, I made it official and decided to go to the New York City show and treat Mary to some Tori therapy. Yay!


TORONTO SETLIST

• Give
• Hotel
• Happy Birthday (to Jon Evans)
• Cornflake Girl
• The Power Of Orange Knickers
• Welcome To England
• Bells For Her
• Carbon
• Concertina
• Putting The Damage On
Lizard Lounge
• Mother
• Roosterspur Bridge
(band returns)
• Lady In Blue
• A Sorta Fairytale
• Fast Horse
• Mother Revolution
• Precious Things
• Strong Black Vine
Encore
• Big Wheel

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