Storm Large

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Storm Large

54 Below, NYC, April 5, 2024

Reviewed by Betsyann M. Faiella

Storm Large
Photo: Betsyann Faiella

Storm Large lived up to her name. She’s tall and blustery (and gorgeous). There’s a lot going on in her brain, and much of it spills out non-stop in her potty-mouthed, political, seemingly stream-of-consciousness patter. She was hilarious and super-smart, and between her music and her shtick, she tuckered herself out so much she lifted a chair with one hand from the audience onto the stage and sat down for the final 15 minutes of her show. She owned every song she sang, and she has an incredibly versatile voice with a multiple-octave range. I was curious when I saw there were only 11 songs on the set list; in cabarets, we often see 15 or more. But as the show unfolded, I realized the extra space was intended for her stories.

I loved her set list; she is a rocker, for sure, but she can also deliver a gorgeous ballad, which she did near the end of her show when she came into the audience and walked the perimeter of the room to sing Brandi Carlisle’s “That Wasn’t Me.” Before that, however, there was a mixture of songs by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood (“Stay with Me”); Nick Lowe (“What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding”); Tom Scholz (“More Than a Feeling”); and Large herself, whose ballad, “A Woman’s Heart,” was absolutely breathtaking. She sang some hilarious songs that sneaked up on the audience as a kind of like a bait and switch.

There is one criticism, and it isn’t necessarily about the singer; it was about the sound level during her songs. We may be used to not hearing the lyrics in rock shows, but 54 Below is a cabaret room, and Storm Large picked a great bunch of songs to deliver. I’m not sure whose problem it was—the club’s or a choice by the singer or the band, to have her singing volume somewhat below that of the band’s. We could certainly hear her patter and stories loud and clear. Large was backed by Music Director James Beaton, with Scotty Weddle (guitar), Matt Brown (bass), and Greg Eklund (drums).

Storm Large became known to the public largely through her work with the group Pink Martini, with whom she still tours. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the group; it was a little too contrived for me. Though I’m happy Storm Large still works with them and has that opportunity to work, travel, and make money, I can see why she needed a solo act. She was fierce and totally unique in the space she has created for herself.

Betsyann Faiella

Betsyann Faiella is a creative spirit with right and left brain functionality. She is a writer and publicist, and founded SavoyPR in 2008. Her clients have been featured in major news outlets including NPR, The Today Show, Page Six, Architectural Digest, and many other major news and entertainment platforms. Her own writing has been featured in the New York Times Diner’s Journal, and her bios for creative people are all over the web. Before founding SavoyPR, she was a busy media producer working with commercial directors, leading international teams, and excelled in both the New York and Los Angeles markets with major brands including Mercedes, Exxon, Bayer, Johnson and Johnson, Old Navy. Betsyann was previously a professional singer, and made her public singing debut at famed NYC cabaret, Reno Sweeney. After touring in shows from Canada to Las Vegas and beyond, she released an album in 2001 titled Can I Be Frank?, a dedication to the artistry of Frank Sinatra. She has performed at the Blue Note, Birdland, Ronnie Scott’s, and more, and Performing Arts Centers all over the U.S. with jazz greats including the late Hank Jones, Paul Smith, and Tedd Firth.