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Tori Amos: A Star, Born In An Hour

When Tori Amos sat down at her piano for the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival, she didn't have a record to promote, or even any buzz to her name. She was just The Girl Opening For The Moody Blues. By the time she got to "Winter," she'd become a star.

It wasn't "Winter" alone that did it; the song was simply the culmination of the previous 40 minutes, when Amos won the audience over song by song. Unlike what was to come within a year, she wasn't singing to her own fans, caught up in the giddy confidence that they'd follow her on whatever flights of fancy she felt like taking in any given song. Instead, she simply played "Winter" straight, with no stops and starts, no holding moments for effect.

What made Tori Amos good was already evident in the song's tale of the complex bond between a father and a daughter as the latter reaches adulthood; presented in its simplest form, it won over a crowd that rewarded her with an unexpected encore despite owing her nothing an hour earlier. "Winter" sealed the deal, and she only needed to put out an album to capitalize on her triumph. This performance, documented on a new live set, marked the last moment when Amos was truly just a woman and a piano.

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Marc Hirsh
Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.