Tori Amos, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

Tori Amos's new album, American Doll Posse, is her best in some time, but there is an ocean of difference between soaking up 23 high-concept tracks in which Amos plays four mythology-inspired characters at home, and hearing it live. On stage, Amos lives every song so fiercely that her gigs are journeys only for the truly committed. And only they could have maintained their enthusiasm throughout this two-hour display of Amos fighting myriad political, religious and personal demons, growing so agitated that lyrics got swallowed up in the rush, and songs became piano-rattling melodramas.

It is one hell of a show, for the first hour, as long as you're in the mood for catharsis. Amos cares about stagecraft, and everything from backing band to the trippy lighting was first-rate; even the costume-change interlude was made electrifying, with Professional Widow rumbling through the PA. Stretched to 120 minutes, though, it was hard graft.

She opened the show as the blond-wigged Doll character, Isabel, who represents, if you please, the "historical" part of the feminine psyche. Isabel pounded out six songs, including the Bush-baiting Yo George, before reappearing as Tori in, appropriately for the fourth of July, a stars and stripes catsuit. From there, it was a long trip through the past 15 years. Cornflake Girl was an obvious highlight, so was a tenderly rendered Home on the Range. Towards the end, Doll Posse's big anthems - Code Red, Beauty of Speed - got the crowd rushing to the front. But by then, Amos was lost in her own head, stridently pressing on and on, refusing to leave them wanting more. Exhausting.

· At T in the Park festival, Kinross, on Sunday. Details:


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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