ROCK Tori Amos Glasgow: SECC, Fri 22 May at hr
The news that Amos’ new album was written in the aftermath of recent miscarriage might be enough to persuade you to steer well clear. She as much as admits it while introducing the recent single ’Spark’. 'l hope this song doesn’t make you sad,‘ she explains. ‘I wrote it and it made me happy.’ And it would be a shame if the subject matter leads people to give the new material a wide berth, for from the choirgirl hotel is the best offering since her debut Little Earthquakes.
The live set opens with ’Black- Dove’, one of several instantly appealing new tracks, and moves straight into another, ’Cruel’. Older tracks are not forgotten, either. ’Cornflake Girl’ gets an airing and Amos performs an early song, ’Leather’, in a solo spot at the piano, which provides the gig’s one spellbinding moment as her vocal strength and range shine through.
Since Armand Van Helden's triumphant remix of ’Professional Widow’ brought Tori to clubland, she has been experimenting with more rhythmic arrangements, a dancier vibe. But this is where the problems begin. In the standing room at the front, people barely shuffle, let alone dance. The whole mood is too polite and reverential.
Maybe fans were hankering for the simplicity of the old 'girl plus piano' approach. Or maybe they long for the intimacy of smaller venues, rather than the soulless surroundings of the SECC's Armadillo building. In any case, the lack of atmosphere is dispiriting.
The standout track from the new collection, ‘Raspberry Swirl’, begins with a technical hitch: her keyboard isn't functioning. This is a bit worrying, because record company press release explains that, in Tori world, the
Tori Amos: confessions of a piano player
piano is a substitute for masturbation. Is she going to be forced to sing it unaccompanied, centrestage? And what will she do with her hands? Such fears are fortestalled as she announces she will play it on the grand piano instead.
And ’Raspberry Swirl’ is awesome, a boiling tempest of a song. 'As I become more comfortable with my sexuality, the less it leaks all over the place,’ Tori claimed in a newspaper recently. Well, you wouldn't know it. ’If you want inside her, well, boy you better make her raspberry swirl,’ she swoops and growls as guitar and drums swell bouyantly behind her. The grand piano climaxes but the audience, strangely, doesn't.
Come: not even aroused
their song titles illustrate their lack of direction or conviction. 'Sorry Too Late', 'Middle Of Nowhere’ and 'The Fade Outs' only reiterate their predicament. Their gentle intros and middle-eights serve as some relief from the annoying strains of too many instruments (yet still only a five-piece) competing for attention. Where they once blended the bitter-sweet and the angry, they appear lost and looking for a way out. It’s embarrassing, not to mention painful to watch as opportunities for redemption come and 90, lost in the mass of n0ise and (unintentional) feedback. Where they once floated, they now sink deeper and deeper into irrelevance. It's difficult not to feel sorry for them as they toil on, but they appear at ease with their mediocrity in
ROCK Come Glasgow: King Tut's, Sun 24 May it t
Bostonians Come have struggled to find their niche for a long time now. Since the long-gone days of grunge, they have peddled melody, distortion and harmony to anyone willing to listen the world over. Equally revered and ignored, they pressed on, never qu.te reaching the acclaim of contemporaries
46 THE LIST 28 May — ll Jun l998
like Dinosaur Jr, Belly and even The Walkabouts. Sure, their latest long- player Gent/y Down The Stream strikes chords and plucks at heart-strings in even the most sceptical amongst us - but live, it just isn’t working.
With all the sound quality of a dying Tannoy system and a lack of on-stage charisma that would challenge even Oasis, the band fight for appreciation from the handful of the faithful who made it along tonight. Unfortunately
live performance. This is so far removed from their recorded work, it’s difficult to tell if they're the same band.
Singer Thalia Zedek has a vorce that, under normal circumstances, COuld save this from complete shambles, but it is barely discernable, no doubt worsened by the rigours of constant strain. When the gig ended, they left as they had arrived: confused, disinterested and unexpected. The question is: were they trying or merely faking it? (Craig Reece)
COUNTRY Willie Nelson
Glasgow: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 23 May ****
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Willie Nelson's brand of country is still one of the freshest and most appealing of that oft-wobbly genre. Like Johnny Cash, Nelson was never absorbed into the Nashville ‘hat act’ production line — his fondness for a puff of the old wacky baccy kind of precluded that — and hung on to his image as a rugged individualist even as he captured a massive audience worldwide. And if he does like to pick songs that shore up his image as the grizzled outlaw loner with a heart as soft as a cushion, he does it so wryly that it's hard not to smile and egg him on.
On tonight's unplugged show (i.e. Nelson’s consistently impressive sidekick Jody Payne concentrates on acoustic), his band slide from song to song with incredible skill, but with the ease of folks jamming on a porch. Nelson likes to play on the bonds they've forged over many years of touring, just like he still insists on playing the same battered old acoustic guitar, year in, year out. And what he plays on it is a minor marvel in itself. A technically limited guitarist, he plays occasional solos which are rudimentary and idiosyncratic — as though he doesn't know exactly what note is about to pop out next — but strangely gripping. There's a bluesiness to him — his band includes one man employed solely to play the harmonica — that keeps the cloying sentimentalism of much C&W at bay.
Comparing his guitar-playing with that of the faithful Jody Payne is like comparing their vocals; Payne has a smokey-sweet country voice and a skilled, gentle touch on his six-string, but when Wilson weighs in with that harder, more nasal twang, either vocally or on his guitar, he’s got the attention of everyone in the room. And the way he sings them too, without any showiness or vocal grandstanding — just letting the lyrics speak for themselves — verges on the hypnotic. (Alastair Mabbott)
Willie Nelson: bandana on the run
STAR RATINGS * * ** * Unmissable 4r * ** Very *ﬁ't Wo ashot, in: Below average , » * You‘ve been:wamed