It was Devil's Night, and the lounge of the Benedum was teeming with people in assorted wigs, wings and ears. But whether dressed as a choir boy or a pirate, they were waiting for the same treat Tuesday night -- seeing Tori Amos. And it turned out to be a delicious, ear-happy, eye-candy sort of treat.
This was definitely a different kind of crowd from the bunch who came for Pittsburgh Ballet's "Don Quixote" over the weekend. I rubbed shoulders with Jesus en route to my seat. He was in the company of a provocatively dressed Santa Claus. There's a fable in there somewhere. Jesus would later earn a shout out from Amos herself.
Opening the show was Yoav, who stepped out, sporting a sparkling red, elbow-length wig and spaghetti-strap dress. The one-man act, who hails from London, Israel and South Africa, performed on an acoustic guitar and created loops for rhythms, chords and, once, humming. The result was an interesting mix that got old fast. Yoav also abused the right to sing in a high falsetto, sort of like James Blunt; his natural range was much more pleasing.
Amos and her band followed, once some ghouls and condiment bottles prepped the stage. Her bassist was dressed as a vampire and her guitarist wore a Viking helmet. Amos waltzed onstage in a short, white, feather-trimmed dress, angel wings affixed, red heels kickin' and a white bobbed wig.
The band opened with a swinging version of "Body and Soul" and kept the tempo up throughout the concert. Even the boyfriends who were dragged along must have been tapping at least one foot to "She's Your Cocaine."
When the rockin' first set was over, orange strobe lights pierced the theater's darkness and my eyeballs. I feared for my retinas. Some people didn't seem to mind the spastic lighting; Jesus and Santa were up front dancing.
When Amos returned, this time decked out as a devil in what seemed to be a red sequined, backless painter suit, the stage was thoroughly decked out for Halloween. At least a dozen pumpkins lay beneath the grand piano. An inflatable snow globe was in one corner and painted blood dripped from Amos' keyboard.
"Big Wheel" got the second set hoppin' immediately. The responsive crowd clapped and sang on demand. "Sugar" was met with wild applause.
Despite Amos' strong voice and stage presence, her vocals and piano licks were occasionally drowned out by her band. It wasn't until well into the second act that Amos played solo, giving the audience a chance to finally hear her loud and clear. Her solo set included a playful "Hello Mr. Zebra" and an emotional "Silent All These Years."
The concert included not only great music, but candy and a pumpkin contest as well. Little pumpkin bags full of sugary sustenance were distributed through the crowd, who shouted their thanks during the few quiet moments that followed.
It was a memorable Toris Amos show -- sweet and devilishly fun.
Kate McCaffrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .