Friday, 24 January 2014

Little Earthquakes

Queens Park Rangers 2 Huddersfield 1

I am a huge Tori Amos fan. And so is the rest of my family. Although I must say my obsession with her calmed down somewhat after my teenage years and early twenties. We fell in love with her music when she released her first album Little Earthquakes. With a brother who was soon to come out, young parents in their late thirties, and myself an angsty-ish teenager interested in making music she was one of the artists that bonded us. A strange choice you might say- her songs were angst-ridden, sad and sometimes painful. But her music was all the better for all the crap that was going on in her life. Many years later in the early noughties she came to London for a concert at the Hammersmith Apollo. I jumped at the chance of buying tickets for all four of us as a Christmas present. We were sorely disappointed. She had no band. It was just Tori and the piano. And it was just Tori singing songs we didn't know, and Tori acting very normal and boring. She had just found her ‘partner-for life’ and had a little girl with him. I remember walking out of the venue thinking how disappointing it had all been, and my Dad said to me ‘She is so boring now that she is happy. It was much better when she was f***ed up’. I think there was some truth in that. She didn't release too many (in my opinion) interesting albums after that- at least for me nothing quite as powerful as the early releases.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the flat atmosphere at Loftus Road. It’s a fact that this season it hasn't been that loud fortress we know it can be. Some people are blaming it on the style of play, others are blaming it on fans who expect too much from the team. I certainly do not have the answer but I can understand the psychology of it. I think back to the last two seasons, and in particular the first season back in the Prem (11/12). I’ll be honest, there was nothing more exciting than beating those big teams at home: Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool…Chelsea. We cracked them all and the excitement was so intense we made a huge amount of noise…and we had the bruises on our legs to prove it. Although last season was much more traumatic we didn't complain about the atmosphere quite so much because the excitement generated from the volatility of our situation overcame all other feelings. And it was a terrible masochistic pleasure.

However, I will never call last season anything other than traumatic. As you know, I do not ache for the Premier League (other than the opportunity of wall to wall coverage and the fact that Niko might stay with us if we go up). This season, we've been winning which itself is wonderful, but has also made that post-match beer all the more pleasurable. In addition, I am able to focus my blogging efforts on a range of topics other than why we have such horrible players that don’t care about us at all. While I would absolutely love it to be as loud at Loftus Road as it can be, or as it is when we sometimes travel away, I’ll take the atmosphere now over any of our two seasons in the Prem – and yes, even over beating Chelsea.

Maybe it’s the fact I’m getting a little older (yes, yes I know I’m not that old), but having lived through plenty of personal traumas at such a young age, there is nothing I like more than peace and tranquillity nowadays. Maybe it’s boring but I’m happier for it. And a little like Tori Amos maybe I have found myself and care less what people think.

But wait a minute, am I saying that QPR aren’t playing creatively enough to get me excited? I think not. And I challenge anyone who tells me we don’t show glimpses of a wonderful style of football with players like Philips, Kranjcar, Simpson...I truly believe these players are also learning about the Championship and this is a journey for them all.  So far it might look boring but they are delivering and doing their job. Recent results where we have been winning by larger margins also suggest that we’re getting a bit better and having more fun.

So what of Tori Amos? Well her hubby is actually from the UK, and she lives here with her teenage daughter. And last year she wrote and produced a musical called The Light Princess which showed at the National Theatre. It received mixed reviews although most were good apart from one from the Daily Fail’s (which in my opinion is a good thing). The whole family watched it together. It was a totally unique experience, and whilst labelled a ‘musical’ it didn't have any of the hallmarks of a musical: catchy tunes, funny gags, corny story-line. The story itself was based on an old fairy tale about a girl who took the death of her mother so lightly that she floated in the air all the time. She falls in love with a boy who was so down about the death of his that he was always so dark and sad. It was modified for a feminist and modern audience and sprinkled with Tori magic of sweeping orchestration and piercing vocals. And it was rich in staging: sparkly lights, a flying princess, floaty seas and skies. Tori was inspired by not just her childhood but also by her own teenage daughter.

And we loved it. In all her happiness and stability, Tori was still able to create something magnificent which still divided opinion amongst critics. Perhaps she will never again create something like Little Earthquakes. But stability didn't stop her from creating something special. And nor should it stop us fans from feeling like we can’t sing, or even from feeling guilty for not! I’ll admit Dad walked away from the musical purse lipped and slightly ‘weirded out’ by the whole thing. I think he didn’t like it quite as much as the rest of us.

As for me, I'm all for people doing things differently and positively, especially female role models. Loftus Road will no doubt bring us many Little Earthquakes in the future. But we might be surprised one day when it gives us something completely, and uniquely different. 

Tori Amos singing Caught a Light Sneeze of my favourite angsty performances

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