Storm Large

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Storm Large

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, November 13, 2021

Reviewed by Steve Murray

Storm Large

There’s nobody quite like singer/songwriter Storm Large, a larger-than-life dynamo with an unmatched set of vocal chops. Riding a surge after her recent appearances on America’s Got Talent where she was seen by millions, Storm remains true to her long-standing performance model—in your face, brassy, honest, and emotionally raw. In these two sold-out shows, Large solidifies herself as a formidable talent conscious of her abilities and no-holds-barred philosophy.

Acknowledging the giant elephant in the room pertaining to the isolation and psychological devastation brought on by the pandemic, Storm opened with two numbers recognizing the abundance of craziness—a sensational re-imagined cover of Ozzie Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and her original “Call Me Crazy,” an unabashed acceptance of the mental flaws in us all. Next up was her jaw-dropping arrangement of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which shot Large to national prominence on AGT. There will never be a better re-interpretation of this song; Storm dives into the creepiness of the lyrics and explodes with the depth of emotion we’ve come to expect.

Storm has honed her songwriting skills over the past decades, moving easily through styles from her punk base in San Francisco, to her stint in Pink Martini, to her collaborations with new bandmates Bonheur. In “Beautiful,” she extols the bad-girl image singing: “Her mommy said, ‘you’d better be a good girl’/Her teacher said, ‘you better turn around’/And everyone said, ‘the girl’s a troublemaker/And all she would ever say was ‘ain’t life beautiful.’” A recurring theme in Storm’s songs is the underdog, usually female, and her eventual redemption and empowerment. In “8 Miles Wide,” a self-identified novelty song, Storm uses the metaphor of an enormous vagina to symbolize acceptance of those people bigger than life.

At six feet tall, with curves like Jessica Rabbit and a rapacious sex appeal, Storm turns her energy to Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop,” her homage to self-pleasure during the COVID shutdown, and The Faces’ raunchy “Stay with Me.” Storm can rock out for sure, then turn on a dime and break your heart with her stunningly spiritual “Angels in Gas Stations” and another original, “A Woman’s Heart.”

Large is super intelligent and can play with a concept and then match it with a sensational cover. Case in point: a story about what the baby Jesus in the manger would be thinking merged with Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited,” with a smidge of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” thrown in. Silly indeed, but amazingly smart. Her finale iced the cake of another powerful performance—her same-sex marriage anthem “Stand Up,” which will forever ingratiate Large to the LGBTQ community. The song is more than just a call for equality as it asks what love would ask of us. Universality, empowerment, connectedness, and love are the underpinnings of Large’s world vision. Her use of sensuousness, blue language, shocking revelations, and brash humor only add to the flavor of Storm’s persona.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.