Tori Amos is rumoured to be touring Australia again in September 2007. In 2005, I saw her play at the Sydney Opera House and at Hamer Hall in Melbourne. I also saw her in Perth on her 1994 and 1992 tours. This time, I may follow the whole tour. Below is a picture from the May 2005 show at Hamer Hall, where I was able to descend the steps from the main balcony to the side box over the stage. I sat in the row behind Tori’s daughter Tash and her minder and enjoyed the most fantastic view.
Tori is touring after the release of her new album American Doll Posse, a concept album featuring five personas who each have their own set of songs on the album. The album has received reviews ranging from ecstatic to mediocre. It is diverse and perhaps her most aggressive and rocking recording.
The characters are a significant development from the symbolic but not developed use of visual personas in the Strange Little Girls covers album artwork. This time, the characters have names, identities, their own songs and even their own blogs: Tori (myspace), Clyde (blogspot), Santa (myspace), Pip (livejournal) and Isabel (tagworld). According to reports, Tori opens each show in character, and then completes the set as herself. She alternates characters from one show to another, hence making following the tour more interesting as one night will differ significantly from another.
There are precedents to this: the Rolling Stones, for example, focused on the songs of a particular album each night of their 2003 tour. I saw two shows from this tour in Melbourne with two quite different setlists: 25 Feb (Sticky Fingers, 1971) and 27 Feb (Let it Bleed, 1969) 2003.
What is driving this innovation in touring? I believe it is at least partially the internet file sharing revolution. CD sales are crashing. In a 2002 New York Times article David Bowie is quoted as saying:
“Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,” he added. “So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”
To make money, musicians will have to tour, and to make touring interesting for the audience and for themselves, they need to innovate. A 2006 BBC article provides analysis that suggests that ticket prices for live music are rising far more than the rate of inflation. By increasing the value and uniqueness of what they offer, performers can charge more for the experience of seeing the show.
Given the sophistication of the music and its marketing, I think the high ticket prices represent good value, and I will attend as many shows as I can. In 2004 I saw four shows in Bowie’s Reality tour. It didn’t matter how much it cost. I was there.