It’s been 25 years since Tori Amos released her magnum opus — her uncompromising third LP Boys for Pele — and the tour in support of it saw the singer-songwriter icon playing largely unscripted, expansive, and not easily predicable sets nestled between her trusty Bösendorfer concert piano and a harpsichord, with a Hammond organ not far off in the wings.

The Dew Drop Inn tour (named for a lyric from “In The Springtime of His Voodoo”) came to the Philadelphia area for two nights at the Tower Theater on 69th Street, and in this fan video of night one — May 2, 1996 — we see a lively Amos performing to the fervent screams of a capacity crowd.

“You’re like totally grooving tonight, aren’t you?” she asks the audience on the first break of the set, before switching instruments to dive into “Blood Roses” on harpsichord. “This is my new little friend,” Amos says, introducing the instrument. “She’s supposed to be 200 years old but she has the hormones of an 18 year old.”

Joining Amos for a lot of this performance is her longtime collaborator Steve Caton on guitar, who worked with her going back to the hard rock days of her first band Y Kant Tori Read. He plays the jangley lead on “Cornflake Girl,” and adds a touch of “Fade Into You” style slide to “Past The Mission,” but generally stays low-key and in the shadows, with the spotlight situated firmly on Amos. She mixes the pensive “Doughnut Song” into the explosive “Pretty Good Year,” and weaves two tender covers into the set — “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and “Lovesong” by The Cure; of the latter she tells the crowd “I used to drive on that 101 and i used to sing this song and sing this song.”

The freewheeling 21-song set highlights all of her albums up to that point, but keeps returning to Pele. A backing track misfire on “Talula” requires Amos and Caton to pause and restart, and it hits massively the second time around; maybe its the bootleg recording, digitized years after the fact, but the blown-out beat, reminiscent of the “When The Levee Breaks” rhythm, boasts an urgency that the chill bongos of the album version lacks. Amos often cites Led Zeppelin as a fave, and the rhythm here makes that influence on this song all the more prominent.

The very responsive crowd cheers at just about everything Amos does — something as subtle as turning from the harpsichord to the piano for the “Right on time…” bridge of “Caught A Lite Sneeze” elicits shrieks of elation. And on the flipside of that, when one person in the audience yells belligerent objections to Amos performing “Me And A Gun,” her devastating account of a rape and the thoughts that go through a victim’s mind, others in the crowd shut them down with no hesitation. Amos, for her part, pauses only briefly to say “I can’t believe you’d come to my show and not think I’d sing this song.”

Watch the performance in full below. As we write this, Tori Amos is getting ready to come to Philadelphia for the first time in five years, on her Ocean To Ocean tour; that show happens Monday, May 9th at The Met, and more information can be found at our Concerts and Events Page.

Tori Amos - (Tower Theater) Upper Darby, PA 5.2.96
Tori Amos
Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
  • Beauty Queen
  • Horses
  • Yes, Anastasia
  • Blood Roses
  • Little Amsterdam
  • Cornflake Girl
  • Doughnut Song
  • Pretty Good Year
  • China
  • Lovesong
  • Precious Things
  • Not The Red Baron
  • Caught A Lite Sneeze
  • Icicle
  • Talula
  • Me And A Gun
  • Winter
  • Over The Rainbow
  • Past The Mission
  • Here. In My Head
  • Hey Jupiter