Entertainment » Music

Tori Scott: "I’ll Regret This Tomorrow"

by Marcus Scott
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Oct 7, 2013
Tori Scott in rocked Joe’s Pub
Tori Scott in rocked Joe’s Pub  (Source:Courtesy of Tori Scott)

Joe's Pub, which no doubt gave entertainers and artists a space to develop and hone their skills, while providing a space for exposure, is a second home to many dreamers. And if you look at the interior, plastered on the walls is everyone from Leonard Cohen and Janelle Monáe to Amy Winehouse and Adele.

There are many success stories like Stew, composer and star of "Passing Strange." It's definitely a sobering experience when you've realized who has played there. Turning heads and raising eyebrows, Tori Scott took the stage Monday late night to give us good news: She's back on the wagon with her new show, "I'll Regret This Tomorrow."

The cheeky affair, backed by a three-piece band on piano, percussion and guitar, introduced one of downtown's best cabaret raconteurs. Though at times it seemed short-handed, there were some pleasant surprises during the evening.

Perhaps the best of night was Scott's medley of island breeze synthpop sounds that paid homage to legendary Tejano queen Selena, world pop diva Madonna and Latin pop goddess Gloria Estefan. Inspired by Scott's detox downtime where she learned Spanish to pass the time, the medley merged Selena's "Como la Flor," Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" and Estefan's "Congo" with an impressive syncopation and accent.

Her impressive band of amigos stripped the songs to their rhythms and played with the melodies, licking the keys here and there. But, it was also Scott's clever, comedic and cunning delivery that not only sold the songs, but also appropriated them.

But like every cabaret, there were highs and lows. When Scott was on, she was on. A rendition of Lorraine Ellison's classic "Stay With Me," a rather hilarious tribute to the man of her dreams, actor Joe Manganiello, whom Scott interviewed for Playbill, brought down the house with Scott's stirring vocals. The power, passion and rawness evoked by Scott sent chills throughout the room. It's moments like these, where you actually believe she is the star she admitted to being at the top of the show with a piano driven take of Prince's "Baby, I'm A Star."

While having a mix of Duffy, Melissa Etheridge and Patti Lapone’s vocal styles, the sassy fruit fly, who could probably go head-to-head with Bette Midler’s wit and Lady Bunny’s feisty, belted through a salvo of pop hits.

When Scott was off, it was fun but less felt less intimate. Scott covered Aretha's majestically defiant "Think" with smarminess rather than fierceness and choked on the stratospheric chest roars that only someone like Aretha -- a genius in terms of technique and vocal firepower -- could pull off. With a set list that came off as glorified karaoke, the problem lies with Scott, an apt singer who made the mistakes that many cabaret acts do: selecting songs that did not suit the voice or the character singing them. And Scott is a character. Because some of the songs did not sit well with her voice, this forced the singer to speak-sing or go flat on notes. This of course, made it difficult for Scott to interpret the heartbeat of some of these songs.

While having a mix of Duffy, Melissa Etheridge and Patti LuPone's vocal styles, the sassy fruit fly, who could probably go head-to-head with Bette Midler's wit and Lady Bunny's feistiness, belted through a salvo of pop hits of today and yesteryear with adoration and love. Mixing fluff with soulful piano rock balladry and molly-induced R&B club stompers, this disco-infused evening made for a good night out. But there wasn't a production. Scott is a singer, through and through, which for some with less patience, and an 8-bit attention span, may find a bit difficult.

Not dripping with swag like Beyoncé, nor as limelight-fanatical as any past or present Broadway diva, what Scott lacks in the charisma, she makes up for in accessibility and vulnerability with her audience. She's upfront and frank. Her other asset: Storytelling. A long lost art almost, it seems like an entire generation of cabaret acts has forgotten the gem of good storytelling, which is a simple aesthetic of cabaret. Not Scott.

While some of the songs may not have been the best for her voice, presence or stage persona, they engaged the audience while tracking Scott's hajj from bar crawl party girl, to drunken calls from jail to her mother, and her day-to-day. You won't find this in any stadium Beyoncé headlines, and I doubt with any blossoming Broadway diva. But probably with Bette, Patti and any ol' Broadway dame who grew up in the "good ol' days." That's Scott's forte.

Scott may not be soaked in the same star quality that comes and goes downtown or on the Great White Way, but I'll visit again. Rather she's making fun of her NYC-era gays or the ups-and-downs of her life, she draws you in with laughs and moments of vulnerability that many downtowners and some Broadway babies seem to have polished out.

And when she sinks her teeth into a soulful tune with her rock-belting glory, she makes anyone a believer. And if you still don't believe after she's finished, I doubt you'll believe she can't hold her liquor. And that would be a classic mistake.

Tori Scott: "I’ll Regret This Tomorrow" played on Oct. 7 at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St. For information or tickets for future shows, visit http://www.joespub.com

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