Photo by Laura Domela – All Rights Reserved
Storm Large: Love, Lust + Rock ‘n’ Roll
Storm Large, Guest Soloist
Bob Bernhardt, conductor
Review by Annette Skaggs.
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
When one attends a show with a headliner named Storm Large, I guess that one should expect an exceptional performer/talent: a person who just blows you away with their energy and enthusiasm. I can attest that the name is fitting for this artist.
Storm Large certainly is no stranger to the ways of the stage, having a wide range of performance backgrounds that started in small dives and clubs to working alongside orchestras, as she did Saturday evening with our Louisville Orchestra.
Along the way she tried her hand at making a splash on the CBS show Rock Star: Supernova in 2006. Despite her success in the preliminary rounds, she didn’t make it to the finale. No matter, she made such an impact with the audience, she gained a very dedicated fan base that follow her to this day. Five years later she was a guest soloist with the group Pink Martini, which included sold out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Bringing her fantastic group Le Bonheur (Happiness), whom she has been touring and recording with for years, Ms. Storm demonstrated for us her virtuosity, resilience, love of double entendres, and unapologetic tenacity.
The evening began with her self-penned declaration of self, titled “Call Me Crazy”, a delightful ukulele driven song that evolves into a semi-autobiographical sketch that is the mind of Storm Large. While “Crazy” was a taste of herself, “Dear Ones” was about accepting ourselves as we are, warts and all.
As our delightful soloist talked about the importance of George Gershwin, calling him the President of the Great American Songbook, she treated us to “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “It’s Alright With Me”. “Skin” was certainly a bit different than what I’ve been used to hearing from the Rat Pack of the mid-20th century, delivering the song in the manner of a true chanteuse. A surprise for me was the orchestration for “Alright” had a little bit of a Foo Fighters feel to it, which I was completely digging, and I think our orchestra was too.
One of the many talents that Ms. Large has is the ability to create and tell a story. Her fantasy and pantomime of how Sandy from the hit movie musical “Grease” could have performed the song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” is clever and sexually charged.
Written with bandmate James Beaton, “A Woman’s Heart” had a fantastic orchestration, especially with the cellos that had me fixated.
Not shying away from a political statement, her performance of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World” was dedicated to the new female senators who are changing the shape and scope of Congress.
Violinist Lisa Spalding, who had been a part of the LO for four decades, passed away earlier in the month. In appreciation for her talent and a nod to the cool fact that Ms. Spalding used to tour with Led Zeppelin, Ms. Storm dedicated the Robert Plant/Jimmy Page collaboration “Thank You” in her memory.
As Storm put it, Freddy Mercury’s “Somebody to Love” was written for audience participation. She was all too happy to enlist the audience for some fun interaction. While her voice didn’t get as high as Freddy did, she was no slouch with her vocal pyrotechnics. And just as we were all in bliss, we were drawn into Phil Hanseroth’s The Story, made famous by singer-songwriter Brandi Carlisle. The melody line was certainly made stronger by our Louisville Orchestra and the power chords of Le Bonheur.
“Angels in Gas Stations” was a heartfelt tribute to a beloved mother figure of Storm’s past. It had all the elements of an endearing love song of appreciation and thanks.
As the audience roared with applause, Storm and her band stayed on stage as she conspired with the audience “…let’s all just pretend that we went off stage, where I go back to my dressing room with chips, while you chant for more. I then leave my chips to come back out and sing, but while I am singing I am hoping that my chips are still there.” Such is her humor.
Her encore piece had a great impact on the audience. She shared that she had always wanted to write the perfect love song but surmised that they have all been written, till one day she thought of a different way of approaching the oft used love song…. what would Love ask of us? And what did she come up with? For us to stand up for love. And stand we did. I dare say that all who stood did so for love and for an appreciation of Le Bonheur, our Louisville Orchestra and Ms. Storm’s performance, boldness, and brassiness.
I know that I did. It makes me very happy that Storm Large considers Louisville a home. Come back as often as you can.
Storm Large: Love, Lust + Rock ‘n’ Roll
April 20, 2019
Whitney Hall, Kentucky Center
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.