Last Friday my wife and I went to see the Oregon Symphony in Salem even though we don't like classical music. Or, usually, symphonies.
But Storm Large, Portland's rock goddess, was singing along with the symphony in "The Perfect Storm" show that moved to the Schnitzer Concert Hall this weekend. Which also featured rock violinist Aaron Meyer in the first part of the program -- another amazing performer.
Large was on her best behavior during her sultry lounge-singer sort of performance. She noted this near the end of her show, saying something like "Salem, I bet you were wondering what you were going to get tonight. But look! I didn't curse once. And I wore underwear!"
She was dressed elegantly in a slinky black dress, nicely made up in glittery eye shadow, her blonde hair neatly coiffed. But anyone who saw her sing on Rock Star SuperNova back in 2006 knows that Large has a whole other way of being "Ladylike" (her original song).
Storm Large's versatility is hugely impressive. Like Lady Gaga, she can play sophisticated nightclub singer or down-and-dirty rocker. I forked out for center seats, six rows back, in Willamette University's Smith Auditorium.
I loved being able to clearly see Large's expressive face. Not to mention her attractive body. In 2011 she took the place of Pink Martini's lead singer, China Forbes, who had vocal cord surgery. Here's a video of her singing with Pink Martini in her sophisticated style.
And then there's "8 Miles Wide" from her show Crazy Enough. Hint: she's not talking about the Grand Canyon, but rather, um, a intimate bit of womanly geography.
Friday night Large said she had a "kink" for love songs.
Especially for love songs about relationships that end badly. Even better... love songs about relationships that start badly. I loved her honest, pleasingly cynical, yet still hopeful attitude toward love. Yeah, it hurts. But oh so good.
A big audience pleaser was her unique rendition of "Hopelessly Devoted." Large said the original singer (Olivia Newton-John in Grease, I assume) got it all wrong. Large told us that if she was jilted by a jerk, she wouldn't be sitting on a swing, softly singing about the break-up.
The guy would be duct-taped in an empty warehouse, his head over a toilet, getting what he deserved.
Her emotionally honest approach to love is even more bluntly revealed in Large's wonderful "I Want You to Die." Great lyrics. Note to self: If you're ever reborn and somehow are on the edge of fulfilling your karmic desire to have a romantic relationship with a reincarnated Storm Large, don't!
For obvious reasons.
Storm Large is a fascinating personality. Seeing her perform close-up Friday night, I could tell that a complex, intelligent, highly engaging woman was singing beautifully with the Oregon Symphony.
In an interview with Rosie O'Donnell, Large talks about her childhood, her mentally ill mother, and forgiveness. Honest. Real. Super talented. That's Storm Large. Portland, and Oregon, is fortunate to have her.