Today I’m flying to Perth to see Tori for the sixth and final time this tour. I’m dreaming of Isabel – the only persona I haven’t seen perform. I am hopeful because some of the others have appeared three times in Australia, whereas Isabel has performed only once. Isabel is the shy one. According to friends who asked Tori about this at the meet and greet in Canberra, she doesn’t feel like doing Isabel as often as the other personas.
In her blog Isabel writes about how the goddess is alive and well in Adelaide. The goddess certainly possessed Pip when she performed there. I wonder if Isabel went to the show? I wonder whether she feels possessed much herself? It appears that Isabel lives more through observing others than through expressing herself.
I’m also wishing and yearning that Tori plays Teenage Hustling – one of the outstanding songs on her new album American Doll Posse. At the meet and greet in Brisbane I asked Tori why she had not played this song so far in Australia. She told me that it is the hardest song on the album to play (emotionally, not physically). Tori said that it takes a lot of strength to play Teenage Hustling and most nights she simply doesn’t have the capacity to play it.
There is something charming and sweet about this. It reminds me of interviews I have seen with Keith Richards, who talks about his songs as his children, and about it being impossible to name a favourite in case he upsets all the others. Tori imbues her songs with intense emotional energy. It is impossible to tell which of her songs have direct biographical reference and which are constructs; like all great artists Tori and her works are simultaneously one and separate.
I have no further expectations. Every show I have seen has been amazing. It’s been a wonderful three weeks of music and travel. I’ve seen five shows and met Tori three times. If my aircraft lands on time I should make it to the meet and greet again, but if not I won’t be sad. I have nothing new to request. It would be lovely to hear Merman, but Tori played that in 2005.
After requesting 1000 Oceans, my favourite song, during our brief chat at the meet and greet in Adelaide, I watched as Tori wrote it on her hand in black pen (she only wrote three requests down, all from people who had told her they had attended multiple shows, and she played all three). She also signed my copy of To Venus and Back, my favourite of her albums (and the one that contains 1000 Oceans). To then hear her play it that night was so special that I don’t think anything could beat it.
For many years I have thought that 8 February 1996, the day I saw Placebo (then completely unknown, and before their first album came out) open for David Bowie in Milan, was the greatest day of my life. At the time, I thought the noisy punk/pop opening band I’d never heard of was unusually good for a support act, and that I should find out more about them. I’m still a fan and I’ve seen them four times over eleven years.
Seeing Bowie was a lifelong dream fulfilled. What was amazing at the time was that he was touring his recently released album Outside: an obtuse concept album full of difficult, non-commercial songs. It has become my favourite, although I would say that Low remains his greatest work. Bowie played classic older songs like ‘Diamond Dogs’ and ‘Teenage Wildlife’ among the dystopian beats of Outside including ‘We prick you’ and ‘I have not been to Oxford Town’. He also played magical drum n bass versions of his early songs ‘Andy Warhol’ and ‘The man who sold the world’. Seeing him four times in a week on his 2004 Reality tour in Australia was barely enough.
As I’m about to see my tenth Tori concert over sixteen years (starting with her performance at the Octagon theatre at UWA in November 1992), I’m starting to think that 20 September 2007, the day that Tori Amos played my favourite song just for me, was better than all these other days.