There were some unusual expressions on the faces of the audience last night. The audiences at most of the cabaret shows have been older and it is possible that the blurb in the programme didn’t indicate exactly what people might expect from Storm Large. In the guide it sounded like an introspective cabaret show from a Vegas glamazon, about living in the shadow of her mothers mental health issues. There is a tiny warning at the bottom of her guide listing (Suitable for audiences 18+ contains strong language and adult themes) but it’s so small the aging Cabaret audience wouldn’t have seen it in with their bi-focals. But I think I can safely say most were not prepared for a storm quite this large.
Things start cabarety enough. A three piece band take their positions and then six foot bombshell Storm takes the stage dressed in black shimmering skin-tight pants, rocker boots and a plunging neckline. The first song Call Me Crazy is a waltz, allowing Large to show the power in her voice and give us a tiny taste of her stage presence. She starts to tell her story about how she was told at nine years old she would end up with similar mental health issues as her mother. So second song in Throw Away the Key, is a wonderful off-kilter piano driven journey in the fear of being crazy. The volume has risen to full rock band levels and the first swearing of the night has arrived. A quick glance round the room shows facial expressions ranging from fear to delight, but there are a lot of mouths agape and eyebrows raised. Because it has to be said Storm Large is an astounding presence on the stage. And that voice. She can smoulder like a chanteuse and then she lets fly with one of the most powerful rock voices I have ever heard in my life and have you pinned to the back wall with its intensity.
“I realise I haven’t seen you guys before Adelaide, and you haven’t seen me, so this is like a first date. So we’ll see how we get on and see I will fuck you after the show or not.”
Four songs in and she talks about how her discovery of masturbation, and love of wildlife documentaries weren’t mutually exclusive and how at sixteen she came to understand her sexuality gave her some potent power over men. The story before Put It in Pull It Out is a shocking one, as is the song itself. Searching for love and being confident in her sexuality are portrayed with great potency. An amazing version of Stay with Me (Rod Stewart & The Faces) leads a trio of great songs of obsession. I Want You to Die am a burning declaration of intent to an ex. But it is her reading of Olivia Newton Johns Grease classic Hopelessly Devoted to You that really kills. Turning Sandy’s playground love song into a smouldering, obsessive almost stalker intent screamer, is just brilliant.
Inside Outside is a cry for help and love. She is saved by Pat Benatar, not in person, but by being asked to sing Heartbreaker with a bar band. Her re-enactment of that first experience on stage and the wild and ecstatic release it gave her is euphoric and quickly leads to a thump back to earth with her descent into heroin addiction. It’s a shocking story told with some bluntness “Then he left the band so I started fucking the bass player, then we got a new guitar player and I started fucking him, but he got sacked and started fucking the new guitar player…”. This is not regular Cabaret Festival in between song banter.
What the fuck is Lady Like
If Lady Like means do what the fuck you like
Her single from her time with US reality TV show Rockstar Supernova is a frantic, angry rock chick anthem and a highlight of this show. It’s followed by The Pixies Where Is My Mind? A perfect song of reflection about the state she’d arrived in. But the realization that everybody is crazy in their own ways is liberating. She shows that she is comfortable in who she is, regardless of what anybody else has to say about it, with the fantastic sing-a-long 8 Miles Wide. By now this stage almost everybody is won over by this brassy, sassy and sexy amazon with the potty mouth and the powerhouse voice. So we all sing along.
“My vagina is eight miles wide
Absolutely everyone can come inside
And if you get frightened you can run and hide
My vagina is eight miles wide”
She returns to the stage to thunderous applause. The date has gone well according to Storm. So we will be getting lucky after the show. She finishes with The Lullaby Song. Written for her mother, who died earlier this year. It is simple and beautiful and reminds us there is more to this Storm than thunder and lightning.
A must see at this Cabaret Festival – Storm Large is fantastic.
Storm Large plays at The Space Theatre on June 24 & 25 at 9:30pm. There is one show in Sydney at The Vanguard (Newtown) on Wednesday June 29th at 6:30pm and one in Melbourne at Red Bennies on Chapel Street on Thursday June 31.
Call Me Crazy
Throw Away the Key
Put It in Pull It Out
Stay With Me
I Want You to Die
Hopelessly Devoted To You
Where Is My Mind?
8 Miles Wide
The Lullaby Song