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July 18, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Strange bedfellows and emotional urgency for Tori Amos | Concert review

Beloved by her fans, singer-songwriter Tori Amos received a boisterous Seattle welcome at the first U.S. show in her 80-city tour Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre.

The tour supports her 14th studio album, “Unrepentant Geraldines,” which recently made its debut at an impressive No. 7 on The Billboard 200 album chart. The album, with songs inspired by visual art around the world, follows five years of musical exploration, including a London musical titled “The Light Princess.”

Seated between a grand piano and electric keyboard, the spirited, red-haired musician occasionally played them simultaneously, delighting concertgoers with her musical prowess, effervescent charm and repertoire of deeply personal songs. Several featured the rich sounds of the Hammond organ, notably “Another Girl’s Paradise.”

Opening with “Parasol,” Amos thrilled fans with such favorites as “Pancake,” “Crucify,” “Ophelia” and “Secret Spell,” blending pop, folk, blues, jazz and classical elements with emotional urgency.

A “Lizard Lounge” section midway through the show featured beautifully intertwined renditions of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.” She described the famous songs as “strange bedfellows.”

“These songs just want to be together, so that’s what’s happening tonight,” she said gleefully.

Despite the popularity of her current album, Amos didn’t cram the set with new songs. She performed “Oysters” and the haunting “16 Shades of Blue,” but skipped “Trouble’s Lament” and the wonderful title song “Unrepentant Geraldines,” a feminist anthem featuring the lyrics, “I’m gonna free myself from your opinion / I’m gonna heal myself from your religion.”

Concertgoers rushed to the stage for Amos’s signature song, “Cornflake Girl,” which closed the main set. Originally inspired by a novel about a young African woman experiencing the ritual of genital mutilation, the song has taken on additional meanings since its release in 1994.

Amos closed a three-song encore with the powerful “Hey Jupiter,” a complex relationship song that’s among her most compelling tunes.

Opening was Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou, a husband-and-wife acoustic duo that plans to release its fourth album after finishing a busy touring season.

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: The Paramount Theatre, Tori Amos

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