Tori Amos at Constitution Hall
Lana Del Rey isn’t the first singer-songwriter to reinvent her sound. When Tori Amos’s first band, the late-’80s synthpop group Y Kant Tori Read, failed commercially, Amos fulfilled her record label contract with a string of piano-driven solo albums, several of which earned her Grammy Award nominations and radio airplay.
Since then, Amos’s sonic explorations have seemed driven more by her own artistic spirit than by label pressure. In 2011 and 2012, she released two orchestral albums. The first, “Night of Hunters,” was a concept album inspired by classical music, and the second, “Gold Dust,” featured re-recordings of songs from throughout her career, backed by the Netherlands’ Metropole Orchestra. Both sounded beautiful, but Amos’s newest album, “Unrepentant Geraldines,” is a welcome return to the bright, piano-driven songs that are a highlight of her live performances.
There is one similarity between “Night of Hunters” and “Unrepentant Geraldines”: Both feature duets with Amos’s daughter, Natashya Hawley. The song “Promise” finds Amos and Hawley finishing each other’s sentences seamlessly. Hawley, who is not scheduled to perform on this tour, sings like a young Amos, down to her inflections and delivery.
One of the most striking songs on “Unrepentant Geraldines” also is lyrically the most unambiguous. In the haunting “Wedding Day,” a woman is longing for the simplicity and closeness of her relationship on her wedding day. The song may or may not be autobiographical (Amos is married to sound engineer Mark Hawley, who recorded “Unrepentant Geraldines”). Either way, Amos captures a stunning depth of complex emotions, even with such straightforward lyrics. — Catherine P. Lewis
Saturday at DAR Constitution Hall. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-397-7328. www.dar.org/constitution-hall. $45.
Watch: Tori Amos' "Trouble's Lament"
Echo and the Bunnymen at the Fillmore
When Echo & the Bunnymen first started playing in Liverpool, England, in 1978, there were three members, supplemented by a drum machine. The band’s new “Meteorites,” its 12th studio album, began as a collaboration between singer-songwriter Ian McCulloch and producer Youth (a.k.a. Martin Glover), with the beats once again programmed. The intimate, confessional lyrics were inspired by McCulloch’s father, a compulsive gambler, and the singer’s own self-destructive tendencies. “The devil is you / I love the devil,” he sings in “Grapes Upon the Vine.”
The vocalist wrote the melodies on bass, and on the album he plays that instrument as well as guitar. Youth provided epic settings, including the string arrangements that envelop McCulloch’s weary voice — and evoke the Bunnymen’s beloved 1984 album, “Ocean Rain.” Then the ringing, Eastern-modality flourishes on such songs as “Constantinople” and “Lovers on the Run” introduce an unexpected third partner: Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant. The relationship between him and McCulloch has long been contentious but fruitful.
Sergeant and four other musicians are joining McCulloch on this tour, which features mostly ’80s material. If “Meteorites” finds the singer in a dark mood, on stage he’s using his old trick of inserting bits of more upbeat, late-night tunes such as Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.” It’s McCulloch’s way of linking his own songs to the tradition that inspired them. — Mark Jenkins
Monday at the Fillmore. Show starts at 8 p.m. 301-960-9999. www.fillmoresilverspring.com. $35.
Watch: Echo and the Bunnymen's "Lovers On The Run"
The Strypes at 9:30 Club
The Strypes wear their influences on their sleeves. Their interviews are filled with nods to such heroes as Chuck Berry, the Yardbirds and Dr. Feelgood, and their shows often feature covers of songs from the same era of blues-rockers. But the four Irish teenagers (Josh McClorey, Ross Farrelly, Pete O’Hanlon and Evan Walsh) have so thoroughly digested that history that they can spit out original garage-punk songs that are faster and harder than anything their role models could claim.
The band’s debut full-length album, “Snapshot,” which was released in Britain last fall and in the United States this spring, hit the top five on the Irish and British charts and had such elders as Elton John, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller singing its praises. This was no mere music-biz hype: The Strypes tear through the album — made up mostly of originals with covers of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Nick Lowe — with a perfect balance of reckless abandon and road-honed chops.
Typical is “Blue Collar Jane,” which begins with McClorey’s insistent guitar riff barking like a police siren before Walsh’s drum roll brings in a rhythm that sounds like the car being chased. Farrelly starts hollering about his neighbor who wants some milk and sugar for her tea, when he wants something else entirely. In the midst of this hormone-fueled pursuit there’s actually a catchy pop melody and skillful playing. But you barely notice those old-fashioned values when you’re wondering whether the band can hold the wild, noisy song together for 2 minutes and 48 seconds. It does. — Geoffrey Himes
With the Skins on Tuesday at the 9:30 Club. Doors open at 7 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. $15.
Watch: Strypes' "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover"