Audiences taste old and new

Tori Amos
D.A.R. Constitution Hall

Constitution Hall maintains a level of dignity when it hosts concerts: smoking is not allowed, food is not allowed and – an unspoken rule – talking is not allowed.

Throughout Tori Amos’ superlative set, the audience sat in what could be called a respectful hush. The first strains of each of new song drew applause in an effusive rush, and then everyone quieted down in order to catch each line sung.

The songs kept to a constant, refined tone that few performers reach, as Amos moved from grand piano to Wurlitzer organ and back again. Her set list drew from all her past albums, playing songs such as “Concertina” and “Crucify” while also playing from her latest, Strange Little Girls.

The dynamically lowest point came at the opening, with Amos’ cover of Eminem’s “’97 Bonnie and Clyde.” Her voice played over the speakers while a single spotlight focused on the photo of her portrayal of the mother murdered in the song.

Although the song will always be chilling, the staging lacked the energy of the rest of her set.

Rufus Wainwright makes his mark as being the first and only opening act to hold the complete attention of a large venue. Just as surprising is the fact that most of the audience arrived early to see him. It would have been inexcusable to miss Wainwright’s sharp, clever solo performance.

Joe Strummer
9:30 Club

Joe Strummer should never be underestimated. Even now, Strummer has a share of the punk legacy large enough to still pack the 9:30 Club. At the same time, Strummer knows not to overestimate his audience. However receptive they may be to his new material, everyone would rather hear The Clash’s famous “I Fought the Law” than anything off Strummer’s recent Global A Go-Go.

The crowd, ranging in age from fourteen to well over fifty, stolidly stood through Strummer’s more recent solo work, music that crosses genres but maintains a running theme of global consciousness, a topic Strummer touted repeatedly during the concert, his tour’s first stop in the United States.

The pace of the newer work generally stays on the slow side and often achieves a steady, enjoyable groove. But the crowd erupted for songs such as “Pressure Drop” and “London’s Burning.”

The Butchies
Black Cat

Traditional stage presence does not exist for feminist punk band The Butchies, whose coy, unassuming onstage demeanor spawned a relaxed camaraderie with the small crowd that showed up at the Black Cat Oct. 4. Although the band is touring to support its new album, 3, members hardly bothered to mention it to the tight bunch of fans present. This low-key attitude would be a drawback for most headlining acts, but for The Butchies it is an asset that fits snugly in with the rest of its do-it-yourself style.

There was no distance between audience and artists during the set, as they chatted across the stage to members of the audience, a pleasure only possible with a smaller crowd.

During the first of two encores, half a dozen friends of the band joined members onstage as nonchalantly as if at a band practice in someone’s garage.

Self-described “dragabilly” act Trixie Delicious and the Lounge Lizards opened the show, offering the best of transexual roadhouse blues on the market today.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.