Hailed by Provincetown Magazine as the “Bette Midler of the new millenium”,Texan-born singer Tori Scott is renowned for her confessional, raucous acts. Normally based at Joe’s Pub, an affiliate of New York’s Public Theatre, Scott came to London earlier this year to perform Thirsty at the Vault Festival.
Thirsty is an hour-long cabaret performance detailing exploits from Scott’s life: from her teenage discovery of vodka and their subsequent lifelong love-story, that one time she ended up in prison, and the trials and tribulations of everyday New York life, she’s ready to share it all in this comic confessional. It’s all powered through with classic songs from old musicals and subverted takes on modern hits. Scott’s escapades are funny to be sure, but what really brings it all together are her powerful vocals and natural self-deprecating humour.
A running thread throughout her interactions with the audience are her references to America and its political situation. Whilst we’re all probably tired of the go-to references that make easy fodder for comedians, Scott brings a uniquely funny take to it by drawing parallels to her own drunken misadventures. America is that good friend who has had one too many and lost control. It makes big issues shallow, but this sort of thing is in keeping with the atmosphere of Scott’s storytelling. It’s not just the jokes and funny stories that stand out in this performance, though. Scott is a truly talented singer and you can’t deny the power of her vocals. There are too many great numbers to name them all, but her rendition of Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ and Janelle Monaé’s ‘Tightrope’ are amongst the best. Her performance really comes to a head in its final moments with an amazing version of the criminally under-performed ‘Wig in a Box’ from rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, followed by 4 Non Blondes’ classic ‘Whats Up’. Ending on those two stellar performances, there is no way the audience could do anything but demand an encore. It wasn’t just Scott who’s amazing: she is backed up by a three-piece band ‘The Shame Spirals’, consisting of musical director/ pianist Adam Wachter, drummer Lisa Martin, and bassist Jamie Wilkins. They are the perfect foils for each other, and together they create a brilliant show.
The Vault Festival is the perfect place for Scott, although the particular stage used, ‘The Crescent’, isn’t an ideal choice. Its standard stage layout with the audience in rows facing the performer seems too conventional for Thirsty which might have felt more at home taking over one of the Vaults’ large bars. The atmosphere Scott creates is intimate, one where you want to be round a table of friends, drinks in hand.