LIVE: Storm Large’s “Holiday Ordeal” @ Universal Preservation Hall, 12/16/2021

The year was 2006. I stumbled across yet another musical reality competition on TV. This one was different though. Rockstar Supernova was an audition for a supergroup made up of Gilby Clarke (Guns N Roses), Jason Newsted (Metallica) and Tommy Lee (Motley Crue.) The winner of the competition would get to front this band. One contestant stood out above all others. Storm Large, a six foot tall, stunning hurricane of a performer. You couldn’t take your eyes off the TV when she performed. She did not win the show, but she gained a ton of new fans. She was recently featured on America’s Got Talent as well.

I waited fifteen years to see Large in concert and I am happy to report that she was worth the wait. She brought her “Holiday Ordeal” tour to Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs on Thursday night. I went in expecting a concert of holiday classics, but was treated to that and much more. Large can straddle the line between cabaret performer and rockstar. She set the bar high by starting the night with a cool lounge version of Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” segueing into Elvis Presley’s classic “Why Can’t Every Day Be Christmas.” She deftly mashed up Alanis Morrissette, Led Zeppelin, and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Her interpretation of the Cole Porter number “Under My Skin,” felt fresh and new. She noted that UPH used to be a church and mused that she hadn’t yet been struck by lightning. She followed with Aretha Franklin’s “Still Waters Run Deep” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Her first set was closed out with two Christmas songs. “2000 Miles” by the Pretenders and an original. “Christmas at the Hotel” was fun, filthy, and festive. The perfect song to end a set on.

A short time later, Large emerged alone on stage with a Ukulele. She opened the second set with a classical piece from Giuseppe Verdi. She ran through “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night” and “Amazing Grace.” Joanie Mitchell’s “River” was treated with reverence. She noted that covering Mitchell is a risk, but she pulled it off incredibly. The Cyndi Lauper anthem “She-Bop” and “Stay With Me” by Faces were definite highlights of the night. Large took the time to walk the entire venue from the floor to the balcony.

Stepping to the mic acapella, she closed the show with her song “Stand Up For Me” which was written during Oregon’s push for marriage equality. The lyrics fit the current situation that we find ourselves in with quarantines and COVID variants. “Stand up for me and we’ll stand together…” This is a reminder to check in with your friends and to take care of one another. I can’t think of a more fitting message for this Holiday season.

From a production standpoint, UPH did an amazing job. Impeccable sound and state-of-the-art lighting. If you have not attended a show here yet, get out to one of the upcoming shows.

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