Julian Eaves reviews Tori Scott is Pickled at Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel, London as part of her recent UK tour.
Crazy Coqs, London
26th November 2019
American popular cabaret entertainer, Tori Scott, wound up a frenzied multi-city A-list tour of the UK with two back-to-back sell-out shows at Brasserie Zedel, confirming her growing popularity over this side of the pond. In a bouncy, high-octane set, she gave her all in a sequence of favourite material drawn from the successes of recent pop divas, hits from mainstream musical theatre and Hollywood. Her publicity material describes her as ‘the Bette Midler’ of today’s circuit, and there is a lot of sense in understanding her that way: her patter is saucy, her position unabashed, and she is a powerful woman who doesn’t waste any time feeling down in the dumps because some man gone done left her… No way! So, inevitably, she has a big gay male following (who were out in force at Zedel to cheer her on), as well as a discerning female clientele of kindred spirits, and some enthusiastic others, who made for a jolly, out-for-a-good-time crowd.
Last season’s breakthrough gig at the Vaults Festival was perhaps a more nuanced, varied affair than what we got this time around, making more of a softer, more vulnerable side. How this show played in other venues, I cannot judge, but in the bright, tiled circular chamber of the Coqs the sound resonated thunderously: it was a great relief – to the ears – when we moved into lighter territory, with an especially welcome, ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’. For all she can belt with the best of them, Scott’s really priceless register is in the middle, where it is laced with honey and cream and is perfectly lovely to listen to. Otherwise, it was a wild ride through hits like, ‘I Am The Greatest Star’, ‘Conga’, ‘Gotta Get A Gimmick’, ‘Workin’ 9 To 5′, and so many, many more! It is a testament to Scott’s phenomenal vocal technique that, after repeating this marathon gig day after day after day, and while constantly on the move, the voice still sounded fresh as paint in London. She is, indeed, a force to be reckoned with and MD Ben Papworth’s trio busily kept up with the furious pace.
Variation was, however, also provided by the guest of the evening, Nick Butcher, a talented musical theatre performer who is now moving into writing and has several projects in development. Tori duetted with him in a finely written piece, ‘I’m On My Way’, which was up-beat and dramatic and bodes well for his shows to come. As for the lady herself, she’s whizzed back stateside where her own career continues to excite expectation. She has a great outlook: very robustly, she pinions a whole bunch of contemporary problems and squeezes out of them as much humour as social critique. Arguably, in this set, the musical profile didn’t quite match the repartee for its toughness and capacity to surprise: it seemed a more ‘mainstream’ and ‘playing safe’ event. No matter. Scott is unlikely to let any grass grow under her feet before she’s back doing something else, even bigger and better. Keep an eye out for the next stage in her splendid journey!