Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Love, Lust & Rock 'n' Roll

Dates and Venue May 18, 2018 at 8pm & May 19, 2018 at 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Michael Krajewski Featured performer Storm Large, vocalist

Reviewer John Jane


Storm Large blew through Vancouver over the weekend (June 18 & 19) to perform back-to-back concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Michael Krajewski. Ms. Large served up generous portions of Love, Lust & Rock 'n' Roll, though not necessarily in that order.

If the tall, slim strawberry blonde had not been given her name by her parents, she would surely have had to adopt it as her professional moniker. Storm Large is a rock music anomaly. Now in her late forties, she has been performing since she was a teenager, but it wasn’t until she participated as a contestant on the television talent show Rock Star: Supernova in the summer of 2006 that she drew national attention. While she only placed fourth, it was enough for Thomas Lauderdale to sign her up as Pink Martini’s vocalist when China Forbes took a leave of absence to undergo surgery on her vocals chords.

On Friday’s show, Large, wearing a high-neck floor length red dress, strode through rows of musicians to reach the front of the Orpheum stage, greeted the audience, picked up a ukulele and moved right into “Call Me Crazy.” The ukulele wasn’t much more than a prop and it was to be the shortest introduction to a song during the entire evening.

For her next song, Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got you under my Skin,” she takes it right out of the American Songbook to give it a twisted rock anthem treatment. Then, staying with Cole Porter, she demonstrates what an innovative interpreter she is with a high energy arrangement of “It’s Alright with Me.”

If Storm Large ever decides to quit singing, she could easily be a success in stand-up comedy. She is able to engage the audience with an offbeat brand of quirky charm and sardonic wit. After an excessively long introduction, she delivered a wild interpretation of “Hopelessly Devoted to you“ that would doubtfully meet with Olivia Newton-John’s approval.

Mixed in with cutting-edge cover versions of other people’s work, there were some of her own original songs. One of these was the dark “Inside Outside” that should make its way to a new rock opera.

The featured performer returned for her second set wearing a black backless dress that exposed a tattoo that displayed the word “LOVER.” In addition to the orchestra Ms. Large brought along a quartet of side musicians including James Beaton on piano.

After a couple of false starts, Large and the orchestra delivered a faultless poignant rendition of “Dear Ones” – ironically, a song about having tolerance of one’s own failings. Another original song, this one having more of a country flavour called “Angels in Gas Stations.” The title possibly inspired by the Victor Lorthos short story. Finally, the singer called upon the audience to help her bring a stadium ambiance to the Orpheum by lighting up cell phones adding spirit to the Freddie Mercury classic “Somebody to Love.”

After a standing ovation Storm Large returned for a generous encore with the self-penned “Stand Up for Me,” an anthemic song she wrote about marriage equality – although the melody is reminiscent of the Scottish folk song Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?" There would be some in the audience going home wondering about what kind of a show they had been to. Storm Large would be okay with that!

© 2018 John Jane