Poised somewhere between vulnerable debutante and femme fatale, Tori Amos is an odd mosaic. Her records are entangled, diverse offerings of highly skilled piano and studio wizardry that have managed to deposit some of the most unusual material ("God," "Cornflake Girl") ever to be hits on commercial radio. In concert, it is often just Amos, perched as a terra cotta-haired torch singer whose intellect is as promising as her libido. The singular enigma that is Tori Amos has generated a healthy fanbase, fueled in part by her mesmerizing, intimate live show.
"It was during the taping of my MTV 'Unplugged' performance (in 1996). … What happened was I just couldn't harness the energy. And I got really mad at myself because I couldn't harness it. And I do this every night and I can usually harness something, and I couldn't understand why. What was wrong? What was I missing here? So I walked off (crying).
"It was the best thing I could have done because what I did was I acknowledged what the truth was – and the truth was I wasn't harnessing it; for whatever reason it wasn't happening. Because I acknowledged it, it gave me power. It gave me my strength back again. It's funny that in that moment of 'this is a mess,' you begin to kind of find the pearls.
"So when I walked offstage I went down to the dressing room and just was pacing.
"My tour manager said, 'So I guess that's it then. Should we order some food? Should we book a restaurant?'
"I said, 'What are you talking about?'
"He said, 'That's it then, you've obviously finished for the night.'
"I said, 'Not necessarily, I'm just pacing right now.'
"He said, 'Okay. I’ll pace with you.'
"We started pacing beneath the MTV thing.
"Then my soundman came in and said, 'What’s going on? It sounds fucking great out there. … I'm telling you, it sounds better than most of your shows.'
"Then my L.D. (lighting director) came down and said, 'Something just doesn't feel right. I can’t put my finger on it.'
"Then my tour manager looked at my L.D. and they looked back at each other. And they go, 'Hang on a minute. Give us five seconds.'
"They walked outside the room and came back in smiling and said, 'The lights are up. We're going to bring the lights down.'
"For 700 hundred shows over the five years (prior to that), I'd played with the lights down. So all the lights were up to catch the audience and I felt like somebody was watching me take a shower. So they dimmed the lights, I felt better. By that point because I'd made the choice to stop it and make some changes, I felt like I began again. And I turned the whole show around."
— Tori Amos