Tori Amos | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It had been three years since Tori Amos‘ last concert in Philadelphia prior to her appearance at the Tower Theater on Saturday night, and the anticipation of her return was palpable as the crowd filled the house.

While people settled into their seats, opening act Scars on 45 warmed the room with their endearing brand of indie pop – and their charming English accents. Lead singer Danny Bremont shared a story from their tour of living rooms across the US, one of which ended up being an unexpectedly private performance for the couple who owned the home. “It was fine, it wasn’t weird,” he assured the groaning audience, “until we did this one and they started making out on the couch in front of us.” The trio then played “Tasted Every Tear” with harmonies so sweet they almost blocked out the mental images that arose when they sang the chorus, “Kiss me, oh kiss me under the covers, hide from the world now, for we feel like no others …”

Scars on 45 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

We felt the presence like no other that Amos carries when she took the stage and bowed hello to our elated standing ovation. She sat in front of her Bösendorfer grand piano, her cherry red Fender Rhodes with a Wurlitzer stacked on top behind her, and began her set with “iieee” to wild approval. “Philly, you’re making me feel like a hometown girl!” she responded, and promised to play some requests, some old songs, and some new songs. Despite being on tour to support Native Invaders (her 15th studio album), she only performed two songs from it. “Climb” and “Reindeer King” fit nicely in her impressive catalogue, and they bookended a highlight of the evening when she played two covers back-to-back: U2’s “Running to Stand Still” into the Velvet Underground’s “New Age.”

Tori Amos | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Amos included just three singles from elsewhere in her discography on the setlist (“Spark,” “Silent All These Years,” and “Pretty Good Year”) and surprisingly chose not to play anything from 1996’s Boys for Pele. Regardless of what songs she did play, each was met with thunderous applause that slowly wound down to soft sing-a-longs, collectively whispered consonants piercing the air, especially during fan favorites like “Cloud on My Tongue” and “Precious Things.” She also elicited ecstatic whoops from the crowd as she made her signature moves, like quick switches between the Bösendorfer and Rhodes/Wurlitzer setup mid-song, sometimes straddling the bench to play both simultaneously, and once punctuating a song by slamming the keyboard cover with a loud CRACK!

Tori Amos | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It was a thrill to see her perform with joy 25 years after the release of her debut album, Little Earthquakes, and to hear the playfulness in the mezzo-soprano range of her voice after a personally painful year for her. The encore and final song, “Raspberry Swirl,” came too soon. Philadelphia sent her off with another standing ovation and the knowledge that we will always be left wanting more from the wonderful Tori Amos.

i i e e e
Flying Dutchman
Cloud on My Tongue
Running to Stand Still (U2 cover)
New Age (The Velvet Underground cover)
Reindeer King
Sister Janet
Silent All These Years
Pretty Good Year

Precious Things
Raspberry Swirl