By Erik Shuler (@ErikJShuler)
Tori Scott began her show, “Thirsty!”, on Monday with a warning. “The thirst is real,” she says, “and the stories are all tragically true.” She eliminates expectations of a sappy cabaret set, with emotional anecdotes about feelings and goals and aspiration, and instead prepares you for a night of solid singing, funny stories, and an all around good time; which she more than succeeds at…tenfold. But Scott sells herself short on one account–an act quite out of character with her pleasantly blunt, all but aggressive performance style. She underestimates the innately inspiring capabilities she possesses by simply telling her stories through her own unique, honest style.
Scott begins smartly with an impressive cover of Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back,” which not only provides ample character work from which the audience can start to build their relationship with the entertainer, but introduces the audience to the astounding voice housed within Ms. Scott’s careful control. It’s a difficult voice to describe because of its chameleon-like qualities; ranging from smooth jazz to musical theatre belting to edgy country. She does it all well, and it mirrors her eccentric, chameleon-like character too, which delightfully reveals its colors throughout the evening.
The charisma of Scott’s ever-increasing appeal is aided by her incredible knack for segues and transitions. Whether it’s a comical tale from her experiences in New York City that lead into the most perfect-and often most unexpected-song, or the way she connects one song with another with her naturally appropriate and pleasing timing, Scott knows exactly what she’s doing. She has the construction of her show down to an exact-but invisible-science; appearing effortless and enjoyable. She shares a harsh anecdote regarding an unruly gentleman-caller encountered on the subway, and slips seamlessly into a strong, classic “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” The vocal is a worthy tribute to the song’s early style, while hilariously reinforcing the story it springs from (one can almost see the performance Ms. Judy Garland would have given if she had worked through “the struggle” of a New York City subway in 2015). She sings a rousing “I Am Woman” to establish her obvious capabilities, but melts the tune into a medley of “Magic Man,” “Help!” and “Holding Out for a Hero;” a set which inspires so much through the rocking vocals, and contrasting characters Ms. Scott presents.
She delivers a healthy mix of favorites, “Natural Woman,” “Be My Baby,” “House of the Rising Sun,” which she does so earnestly to showcase her beautifully full and resonant voice, and current pop songs that she twists with a cool jazz vibrato like “Drunk in Love,” “Back to Black,” and “Welcome to New York.” She owns the material like it was written for her, whether it is old or new, and sings the music with such a solid commitment and joy that is infectious. With notes of Judy Garland, Dolly Parton, Carole King, and Adele (not a bad crowd to be a part of) her voice is definitely her own. And her personality and performance style is unique and refreshing. Ms. Scott is a born performer, and a venue and structure like “Thirsty!” at Joe’s Pub is the perfect place to present such an artist; a star player on her home turf presenting what she loves to an eager and excited-lucky-audience.
Don’t miss Tori Scott “Thirsty!” playing next at Joe’s Pub at on June 1st at 9:30pm (Doors open at 9:00pm).