Tori Amos, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

Tori Amos's latest record, The Beekeeper, is a bewildering concept album of sphinx-like complexity. Its 19 abstruse songs are divided, seemingly arbitrarily, into six "gardens". Amos has never been afraid to gild the lily.

Yet the live performance is simplicity itself. Taking the stage alone, the US singer-songwriter is armed with only a grand piano and a selection of Hammond organs. It seems a slim arsenal with which to capture the crowd's attention, and the evening proves an erratic one.

Although it is conceptually overwrought, The Beekeeper boasts some fluid, sparky pop songs. Luckily for Amos, a killer melody can redeem a preposterous lyric. So taken is the audience tonight with the vivacious dynamics of Witness that they ignore the fact that she is singing: "In your furnace, then, you drink my tenderness/ Feldspar and mica."

Such nonsensical wordiness, however, is thrown into relief when the music flags. As Amos switches between her keyboards, too many tunes lapse into a disappointingly dreary dirge. The Beekeeper's title track and Hey Jupiter flounder, labouring under the weight of their own portentousness.

The infectious Sweet the Sting is better, with a cameo appearance from a gospel sextet providing a welcome lift in mood and flow. The ribald Hoochie Woman also relieves the intensity, with Amos proving herself a surprisingly dab hand at, of all things, boogie-woogie.

Amos can be a self-absorbed performer, but there is no denying her meticulous musicianship. She lends a throbbing vibrancy to George Michael's Father Figure. Madonna's Like a Prayer fares less well, its disingenuous sense of pop fun reduced to heavy-handed melodrama.

In the eyes of tonight's whooping followers, Tori Amos can do no wrong. She may need, however, to prune those overgrown lyrics for everything in her six gardens to truly come up rosy.

· At Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow (0870 040 4000), tonight. Then touring.


Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Tori Amos, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

Caroline Sullivan

06, Jul, 2007 @10:48 PM

Tori Amos | Pop review

Hammersmith Apollo, London
An introspective affair, wholly focused on the enigmatic woman and her piano, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

15, Sep, 2009 @11:57 AM

Tori Amos, Manchester Apollo

Manchester Apollo.

Dave Simpson

15, Jan, 2003 @2:11 AM

Tori Amos, Shaw Theatre, London

Shaw Theatre, London.

Dorian Lynskey

20, Nov, 2003 @2:25 AM

Tori Amos – review
In this celebration of her career, Amos tunnelled into each song with the intensity of someone singing it for the first time, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

04, Oct, 2012 @4:54 PM

Other pop: Tori Amos, The Beekeeper

Other pop: Kitty Empire on Tori Amos | The Kills | Amos Lee | M Ward | Laura Veirs | Various Artists

Kitty Empire

20, Feb, 2005 @1:55 AM

Tori Amos | Pop Review
Hammersmith Apollo, London
Tori Amos's flowing, fluting vocals, although impressive, were more a stream of sound than actual words. Wherever she was in her head, it wasn't in west London, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

14, Sep, 2009 @9:05 PM

Article image
CD: Tori Amos, The Beekeeper


Adam Sweeting

18, Feb, 2005 @1:19 AM

Article image
Music Weekly: Tori Amos

Tori Amos talks mythology, and mixing songs with classical music, reviews of St Vincent, Pistol Annies and Friends, and REM remembered. With Alexis Petridis, Dorian Lynskey and Alex Macpherson.

Presented by Alexis Petridis and produced by Scott Cawley

23, Sep, 2011 @4:37 PM

Article image
CD: Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk


Adam Sweeting

25, Oct, 2002 @10:33 PM