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Under the Doublethink: Tori Amos

Antonella Gambotto, Elle (Australia), 1996

ON STAGE, SHE silences. The impact of her voice – that ethereal, that demoniacal, that rare instrument – is overwhelming; it is, in its own way, a means of real evisceration. She is dwarfed by all theatres, only a fraction over five feet tall, and yet by the end of every performance she has both commanded and changed the quality of the audience’s concentration. Her mastery of the piano is mesmerizing. Her playing demands the transcendence of pure listening. her performance style, wrongly classified by some as mannered, is liberatingly sensual. The ferocity with which she can attack the keys often cause her to spring from her stool until she is standing, hunched over her rippling hands, her carmine hair trapping the spotlight like a halo, her face tipped to the sky, her eyes closed, it is as if she is being electrocuted. At each show she is wrung clean of encores. She once said that it took her years to realize that she had "some kind of calling".

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