Seattle's cavernous, 3300-capacity WaMu Amphitheater was less than half full for Tori Amos' woefully under-publicized Sinful Attraction tour opener Friday night -- Amos' name was even left off the marquee outside -- but she regaled an attentive crowd with a 20-plus-song setlist that found her transforming old favorites and unleashing the gospel-laced force of her recently-released 10th album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin.
"It's time for a new adventure starting here, in one of my favorite places," she said after a potent rendition of "Caught a Lite Sneeze." "I decided to wear emerald green for the Emerald City."
Indeed, the willowy Amos was wrapped in a form-fitting, floor-length dress of radiant green, her hair like a copper-colored curtain down her back; beneath she wore gold lamé stretch pants and matching thigh-high boots. It was a superhero's getup, and as Amos straddled her piano bench, left hand working her baby grand piano, right hand coaxing loops and ambient effects from a bank of synthesizers, she showed both the resolve and vulnerability of a star completely at ease with the weight of her role. The stage's diaphanous, star-speckled backdrop added yet another layer of texture and color.
One of the night's most poignant moments came when Amos' longtime band -- Seattleite Matt Chamberlain on drums and Jon Evans on bass -- left the stage. "They boys are gonna go get a beer," Amos said. "I'm gonna stay with you because I don't like beer. Tastes like horse piss."
Then she spoke about her brother, who died in a car accident in 2004: "I wouldn't be here without him, because he's the one who snuck in all those records behind daddy's back." In that context, her solo cover of the Stevie Nicks classic "Landslide" was devastating. The crowd erupted at its conclusion.
After Amos' three-song solo set, Chamberlain and Evans returned and the singer brought a heavier sound to the show's second half. A trio of tracks from Sin were especially hard-hitting, with set-closer "Strong Black Vine" drenched in deep, bluesy soul.
Amos teetered between girlish coo and husky alto throughout the night, a stunning range that left the audience reverent and ready for more.
Even after two encores it wasn't enough, but tonight that was all Amos had to give.
Tori Amos Setlist:
"Caught a Lite Sneeze"
"Welcome to England"
"Bells for Her"
"Baker Baker" (solo)
"These Precious Things"
"Strong Black Vine"
"Past the Mission"