Tori Amos

With Rufus Wainwright. Wednesday, October 24, at the Palace Theatre.

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Tori Amos
Tori Amos
Tori Amos has always underscored her elegant alt-rock with a sense of reflection. The ruby-haired pianist's 1991 debut, the EP "Me and a Gun," was centered around the title track, a harrowing song about when she was raped at gunpoint. Over the next decade, Amos released five poignant and personal albums that showcased her piano-ballad prowess, proving that she had the flamboyance of Kate Bush and the resolve of Joni Mitchell. On Strange Little Girls, her latest album, she reinterprets 12 male-penned songs from such modern bards as Lou Reed, Neil Young, John Lennon, and Eminem. She's done covers before -- "Crucify" single featured covers of the Stones' "Angie," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Led Zeppelin's "Thank You." But Strange Little Girls is hardly a tribute album. Liberally reworking its music, Amos retells each song from a female viewpoint, denouncing the patriarchal overtones of some of music's most cherished and popular artists. The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" becomes a 10-minute canticle against gun control, and Joe Jackson's "Real Men" becomes a solo piano poem about sexual bigotry. But Eminem's narrative, "'97 Bonnie & Clyde," is the disc's triumph. Stripped of its hip-hop beat and anchored with strings, the tale of a murderer goading his daughter into helping dispose of his wife's body is now told from the viewpoint of the dead mother. Amos's rendition is a profound commentary on domestic violence -- in league with "Strange Fruit," Billie Holiday's battle cry against racism. For this show, Amos will perform solo for the first time in seven years, presenting the intense songs on Strange Little Girls in a most intimate format.

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