Live At Montreux 1991-1992 (CD/DVD)

Tori Amos

Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2008

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Despite their power, songs from well-known albums lose their luster to listeners due to the simple act of repetition. Listeners wholly floored the first time they heard “Whole Lotta Love,” “With Or Without You,” or “Come As You Are” will now hit SEEK on their radio as if they had heard an AM radio sermon. To put it bluntly, if you hear a song enough, the chances of you discovering something new grow slimmer by each listen.

Even a starkly intimate, shattering album such as Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes cannot escape this law of music. “Crucify,” “Precious Things,” and the devastating “Me And A Gun” can move people to enroll in college poetry classes, but seventeen years later, those songs may barely elicit a response if those same people hear those tracks on Internet radio. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Still, life experiences, change of environments, and even a few substance indulgences can make songs that you’ve heard for years sound new and vital. In the case of the DVD and CD release of two concerts played at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991 and 1992, the tracks on Little Earthquakes take home a new impact as Amos plays these songs to an audience just as she was amassing an intensely rabid and rapidly growing cult following in the age of grunge, gangsta rap, and alternative music.

The first half of the CD/DVD (sold separately) features Tori Amos playing a relatively early slot on the Jazz festival lineup. Her performance contains the bravado that is her trademark for her live shows, but it also has some entertaining, unpolished moments. She forgets her lyrics in “Happy Phantom,” she indulges in over-the-top theatrics (even for her) in “China,” and she nervously admits to making out to Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You,” a song she played for an encore.

The second concert, recorded a year later, has Amos assuming a much more polished and assured position. A little more than a third of the way through “Little Earthquakes,” she stops the performance to address a noisy audience member -- then less than two seconds later, she goes back into the song without missing a beat. The two concerts have some overlap, mainly to show her progress as a performer. On the DVD, the changes are right in your face as the production has Amos front and center for most of the performance. On CD, these changes are more subtle and less rewarding.

Live At Montreux is an album made for Tori Amos fans. Die-hard fans can get better concerts from bootlegs. Casual fans who loved her early output but were turned off by her more experimental later recordings will remember what got them into Tori Amos in the first place after watching her performance of “Winter” and “Precious Things.” For hardcore fans, Live At Montreux takes listeners back to a time before the excessively-long 74-minute albums, before the polarizing Strange Little Girls, and before other singer-songwriters borrowed liberally from her formula and repackaged it in a more listener-friendly format.  DVD Grade: A-; CD Grade: B.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Rock Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.