BWW Review: STORM LARGE Electrifies Feinstein's / 54 Below
Half way through her latest set at Feinstein's / 54 Below, feet bare, red silk evening gown hiked up from her ankles, and low back hunched in a primal howl, Storm Large appears something of a feral cat, or perhaps more adroitly, a soldier scaling the peak after final battle.
The song is "Golden Boy," an original Apocalypse Now tinged war anthem, and as sung, or rather blazed, with shattering emotion and dizzying vocal power by the electric Ms. Large, it's a shot that seems to perfectly encapsulate the breathtaking prowess and range of this Oregon based singer-songwriter, who first catapulted to national attention in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS show Rock Star: Supernova.
A wild, luxurious, and very frank performer with a model's face and body and the soul and four octave range of a high priestess of blues and rock (think Charlize Theron possessed by the spirit of Janis Joplin and you won't be far off) Large has, in the decade and a half since that seminal television finale, conquered everything from symphonies to the subversive; knocking the American Songbook off its dusty pedestal and into the burning heat of rebirth in the process.
Call her a songstress for and from our times. A girl in sequins by way of a 2:00 AM Mountain Dew and Tequila soaked drive by run at Taco Bell.
That she's found such success as a bad girl turned siren shouldn't be much of a surprise. The idea of say, Courtney Love smashing Cole Porter isn't necessarily a design completely unique in its unorthodox paradox. That the voice is as supple and expansive in its range and texture is. Wailing through the driving "It's a Man's World," or caressing with ebbing throb and folk sweetness, "A Woman's Heart" and "Angels and Gas Stations," two original compositions of plaintive longing and purest desire, Large's voice, here and throughout, provides endless riches of color and tone.
Self described as a "hooker with Tourettes" Large, who possesses a sexual frankness and a vocabulary so profane as to make Bluebeard blush, is irreverent and refreshing; an unapologetic original who nevertheless manages to also be completely authentic.
With arms frequently beating a tambourine against her thigh or full body swooping to conduct drum licks and melodic swell, Storm is also a hugely dynamic entertainer.
Backed by Le Bonheur, her terrific four piece band, and wrapping a satin-sandpaper voice around songs like "Forever Young," "Spirit in the Dark" and most excitingly, Brandi Carlile's "I Was Made for You," Large is a singer who somehow spools deep interpretive connection, mad vocal chops, and mega star quality charisma into a tightly wound and fiercely satisfying musical experience.
A performer not afraid to touch and embrace her audience, Large's connection is often personal. Flowing through the room, holding hands and eyes to music as seemingly wildly different as the jaunty "8 Miles Wide" (Large's signature tune, better known as simply, "The Vagina Song") to the stalwart anthem for love, "Stand Up for Me," Storm Large wears her message on her sleeve: the truth of who we are is like America itself; especially as America grooves today: wild and messy, bruised and pioneer, but ultimately unbreakable with a bleeding, open and pulsing heart.
Storm Large at Feinstein's / 54 Below: November 5-8, 2019.
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: James Beaton (MD/Piano)
BAND: Storm Large (Vocals, Ukulele), Scott Weddle (Guitar), Matt Brown (Bass), Greg Eklund (Drums
For tickets visit the Feinstein's / 54 Below website.