Storm Large

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Storm Large

The Gaslight Theater, St. Louis, MO, November 6, 2015

Reviewed by Chuck Lavazzi for Cabaret Scenes

Storm-Large-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212In cabaret’s house (to paraphrase John 14:2) are many mansions. As anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Portland, Oregon-based diva Storm Large and her band can attest, one of those mansions looks a lot like a West Coast rock club.

A one-woman entertainment conglomerate (rock star, author, actor, and songwriter) Large definitely kicked out the jams in this appearance.
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Her performance was as least as much rock as cabaret (especially in its attitude), but it was solidly theatrical as well

Mostly, though, it was entertaining, raucously and bawdily funny, and entirely genuine. You can’t hide in a cabaret show, even with a four-piece band behind you, so Large (to her credit) didn’t even try. Slinky, sexy, and blessed with a powerful, seamless voice, she immediately grabbed the audience’s attention with one of her own songs (“Call Me Crazy”) followed by a wildly obsessive cover of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that sounded more like the sort of thing Lou Reed was writing during his “Rock and Roll Animal” period.

Which, as it turned out, pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening.

If you saw Large’s last Gaslight show Taken by Storm back in April of 2014, you probably recognized some of the numbers in this latest outing. She reprised her just-this-side-of-creepy version of Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas,” for example, as well as her psychotic dominatrix version of the sappy “Hopelessly Devoted to You” in which the song is yanked from the film version of Grease and dropped into one of the movie’s multiple adaptations of Stephen King’s Carrie. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving ditty.

As mentioned, Large’s songwriting talents were also on display. Her next-to-closing song, “Angels in Gas Stations,” was a beautiful little slice-of-romantic-life poem (“God is every damn where tonight,” runs the refrain), while her “8 Miles Wide” was a cheerfully upbeat and totally outrageous declaration of female empowerment: “My vagina is eight miles wide,” goes the refrain to that one. “Absolutely everyone can come inside/If you’re ever frightened, just run and hide.”

The most remarkable original number in the evening, though, was probably “Charity Lamb,” inspired by the story of Portland’s first convicted axe murderess. Originally composed in 2008 for a compilation CD honoring Portland’s Lone Fir cemetery, the song focuses on Lamb’s victimization by her brutal husband and her need to take her own life back, however violently. “I’m damned if I’ll suffer/Another long summer/Alone with no lover/And your brutal hands” runs the lyric. It’s potent and searing stuff.

All of which means that, once again, Storm Large’s show did not fit into any easy niches and was not for the easily offended (devotees of the political right wing, in particular, probably did not feel very comfortable). But the cabaret tent is a big one (maybe even eight miles wide…), so there’s plenty of room for high-energy hijinks by performers like Storm Large and her band.

That said, I have to admit that at over ninety minutes, the show was a bit long for the one-act cabaret format. And some of her patter, entertaining as it was, tended to get a bit discursive. A monolog about Ben Carson’s gaffes, for example, was funny stuff, but it could have been trimmed easily. Still, only a dedicated Puritan or some other variety of killjoy could have failed to have a good time there.

Accompanying Large were pianist and Musical Director James Beaton, guitarist Matt Brown, bass guitarist Scott Weddle, and drummer Greg Eklund. They all rocked the house and have all performed with with the singer often enough to be very comfortable with both her and with each other.
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Chuck Lavazzi

Chuck Lavazzi is the producer for the arts calendars and senior performing arts critic at 88.1 KDHX, the host of The Cabaret Project’s monthly open mic night, and entirely to blame for the Stage Left blog at He’s a member of the Music Critics Association of North America and the St. Louis Theater Circle. Chuck has been an actor, sound designer, and occasional director since roughly the Bronze Age. He has presented his cabaret show Just a Song at Twilight: the Golden Age of Vaudeville, at the Missouri History Museum and the Kranzberg Center.