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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Tori Amos: Too Much Drama, Not Enough Song

March 24, 1994|STEVE HOCHMAN

"There are too many stars and not enough sky," sang Tori Amos during her show on Tuesday at the Wadsworth Theater. The line is from "The Waitress," a sketchy song about fighting the urge toward vengeful anger, but it could be a description of the maddening nature of Amos' own artistry.

On the one hand, as she sat alone at a grand piano, it was impossible not to be captivated by the boldness of her personal, confessional songs, the sometimes striking imagery and her impressive command of musical dramatics and vocal gymnastics.

On the other hand, she spent so much time and effort drawing attention to those very qualities--an exaggerated convulsion to underscore the drama here, a little lip-smack to punctuate her diary-like poetics there--that the effect was spoiled. She tells us there are too many stars . . . and then makes us count every one.

Her confessions do offer her fans a vicarious liberation and unburdening--men and women alike Tuesday responded with knowing appreciation to her observations. Too often, though, they seem designed solely to get attention. The best moments were the most relaxed and least calculated. A chatty, spoken introduction to "Icicle," a song about physical self-discovery in the face of her repressive childhood, made the point with more ease than the song itself did.

"Why must I crucify myself?" she asks in the song "Crucify," from her 1991 solo debut album. The answer in much of this show was simply: Because she can.

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