Tori Amos' song-time embodiment of "the bad girl, the self-righteous virgin, the prostitute" and self-proclaimed pursuit of self-empowerment themes seem a tad on the theoretical side for my taste. But all the same, there's no use denying the magnetic presence the flaming redhead brings to a stage.
As an enigmatically beautiful woman playing a piano and jerking her voice from moan to squeak, Amos has been dismissed as a Kate Bush wannabe. And with her surprise hit re-reading of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" she's veered close to gimmickry. But the new album, Under the Pink, and especially the memory of her last powerful Houston show, overwhelm any misgivings, and make her worth both a look and a listen.
-- Brad Tyer
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Tori Amos plays at 8 p.m. at Cullen Performance Hall on the University of Houston campus, Friday, August 12. Bill Miller opens. Tickets cost $19.50. 629-3700.
Robert Earl Keen Jr. -- Keen's one of the finest songwriters in Texas, even if old dorm buddy Lyle Lovett's too busy dealing with the Enquirer to notice anymore. And he's one hell of a nice guy. An appealing combination, of which one is advised to partake at every given opportunity. At the Satellite Lounge, Friday, August 12. 869-COOL.
Greg Ginn -- The former Black Flag guitarist has been virtually unlistenable in his recent recorded output, but he's nonetheless a genuine, ass-kicking, punk-rock guitar monster on wheels, and if ever you feel the need to let someone take you over the sonic top, Ginn's your man. At Mary Jane's (formerly the Shimmy Shack), Friday, August 12. 869-5263.
Li'l Ed and the Blues Imperials -- You're likely never to see a smaller man with a bigger grin, but if you could manhandle that Gibson with the sort of joyous abandon that Ed brings to it, you'd understand whence the smile. Matter of fact, you'll understand just by listening. This is party blues, Chicago style, and if there's a harder working band presently plowing that fertile field, I haven't seen them hit Houston. At Billy Blues, Friday, August 12. 266-9294.