(Note: there is a day in-between the shows that need not be posted in a music blog – in short, I trekked out to visit friends in Philly)
Awaking far too early given our late into the night wine party, Jenna, Mary, Ted and I slowly regained our functions with the restorative powers of YouTube’s finest offerings, including the best crackhead ever to appear on Judge Joe Brown, a girl way too obsessed with Twilight who filmed her reactions to the New Moon trailer as she watched it and Tori videos of win. By this point, we’d decided to hit the scalpers and Jenna had agreed to join us for the night. Yay!
The drive to NYC took infinitely longer than we’d hoped, the traffic especially brutal. By the time we’d hauled ass to Radio City Music Hall, it was almost 8pm. I played with the scalpers and managed to snag a pair and a single in the orchestra for a total of $55 below face. I probably could have talked him down a bit more, but I felt a little sorry for the money they were definitely losing on the tour.
The three of us had a moment of giddy awe as we entered Radio City Music Hall, a pretty iconic venue. I’d never seen a Tori show in New York City proper, and it was Mary’s third show and Jenna’s second. Our seats all worked out well, with Jenna a deal closer to the stage than us, which I thought fair since she was alone. Mary and I were seated next to a woman who was a dead ringer for Ani Difranco (hey, maybe it was her; she was avoiding eye contact with the audience around her) and behind a tall, large man who was SO into the show and constantly dancing and bopping. He apologized a few songs in and told us to tell him to move whenever, then adding, “Just know that this means more to me than you can ever imagine.” I cut him some slack; it was obviously his first show or first in some time. He knew the words to every single song. His wife and kids seemed a little mortified but were all into the music.
The setlist, like Toronto, yielded nothing truly spectacular beyond the debut of the night. Such is the way when a) Tori has no meet and greet and b) Tori’s friends/family are in town, cutting rehearsal time for new treats. However, aside from a lull just before the solo section, it was a solid, enjoyable set with a strong Under The Pink presence, and Mary got to hear a lot of songs she wanted. And since the show was about me gifting Mary with Tori, that made me happy. A few song highlights:
Body and Soul: After being robbed due to curfew in Toronto, I was stoked to hear this song again. Tori really is at her best when unleashing her sassy rocker self, and this song showcases that. It also set the mood for a very dance-filled night.
Space Dog: I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever tire of this song. Tori plays with her delivery of the verses, emphasizing certain lines with a girlish giggling glee, as if revealing a secret bit of gossip. The boys also get to jam with a rather fun piece.
Smells Like Teen Spirit: This is one of my favourite covers Tori has ever done, and a song I’ve only heard once before. Tori preceded it by telling us she “had to tell a story” and “I can’t help myself – I’ve had three fucking cupcakes!”. The story was fantastic, reminiscent of the days when Tori frequently chatted with the audience, discussing her days as a piano bar singer in Washington and her father’s attempts to help her to break into New York. She even playfully pounded out a few bars of New York, New York as she talked. Eventually, she revealed she was rejected, and “they never got to hear me play this.” She really went for the final “a denial” and I was floored. Tori, seriously, you need to play this more often.
Winter: For a lot of people who’ve seen multiple shows, this song’s pretty generic and a ‘blah’ setlist number now. I’ve seen this done several times myself, and up until this show, I would have been torn between Baltimore ’05 and Toronto ’07 for my favourite performance. This one blew them both away; there was so much intensity, so much emotion, that I broke down completely. I grant you that there are personal reasons that this song is special right now to me, but Tori was seriously on during this song. Her vocals were poignant and crisp, the best I’ve heard her.
Talula: I love this new arrangement. I really do. It’s playful and fun, it moves at a good pace (unlike the dragged out Caught a Lite Sneeze of 1996), and Tori seems genuinely happy to play it.
Strong Black Vine: Of the three performances I saw, this one was my favourite. The ‘She can push’ improve went on especially long and wild, and it seemed that Tori lost herself completely in the music.
Raspberry Swirl: My heart broke a few years ago when Tori announced she was ‘over’ Raspberry Swirl, as I’d never heard it live and thoroughly love it. I am so glad that the 2007 tour and use of the ‘doll’ characters to play songs Tori herself couldn’t connect with anymore has renewed her love of this track. It’s an ass-shaker that is MADE for an encore.
Big Wheel: Never. Ever. Tire of this. I fully endorse Tori continuing to praise herself as a MILF.
NEW YORK SETLIST
• Body and Soul
• Cornflake Girl
• Space Dog
• Jamaica Inn
• Marys of the Sea
• Bells For Her
• (Chat about coming to NY with dad to try and land job as a piano bar singer; snippet of New York, New York. “I can’t help myself – I had three fucking cupcakes!”)
• Smells Like Teen Spirit
• Lady In Blue
• Little Earthquakes
• Precious Things
• Strong Black Vine
• Raspberry Swirl
• Caught a Lite Sneeze
• Big Wheel