TORI SCOTT: TORI WITH AN “I” at the Crazy Coqs
“She clearly loves the material, which she delivers with a belt!”
Tori Scott made the move to London from New York City about a year ago – arriving here with three bags and one cat (with a touch of dramatic license thrown in no doubt). Since then, she has swiftly and firmly established a growing popularity this side of the pond. Her two-night stint at Crazy Coqs shows us why. Her lively, breathless whirlwind of a ninety-minute set leaves us wanting more, if not a little glad we can catch our own breath by the time she dances out, mid-song, through the venue’s double-doors.
She loves the venue, she claims. “It tricks me into thinking I can afford the drinks”. She loves her new home here too, despite the cost-of-living crisis; “It’s too expensive to stay alive”. The title of her show – “Tori with an I” stems from her discovering how hard it is to live in the UK with a name like Tori. This theme (one of casting an outsider’s eye on the many eccentricities of British life, culture, politics and personality) informs the banter that occupies the gaps between songs. Between verse and chorus even. Such is her gift of the gab she can slot a hilarious anecdote into the short sixteen bars of an instrumental break.
Scott is an actress, singer and comedian and all three attributes are in full swing as she sways through a set list takes in the likes of Elton John, Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper, Florence Welch, Madonna, Bowie, the Eurythmics, Divinyls, Bewitched… among others. It is a musical journey in which, unlike many shows of this genre, the choice of musical numbers is seemingly appropriate to the surrounding banter. Or at least Scott makes it feel that way. Maybe she’s just winging it – you can never tell with Tori. She shamelessly makes fun of our culture, but does so with immense affection. And self-deprecation. She makes fun of herself and, very occasionally, the artist she is covering. It is done with love. She clearly loves the material, which she delivers with a belt! (to say the least). Her voice soars, but sometimes it is like there is a slow puncture somewhere and she needs to reach the end of the song before the air starts to escape.
Musical director and pianist, Ben Papworth, has his work cut out keeping up – but he does so with consummate ease despite barely controlling his laughter from Scott’s barrage of gags. Midway through the evening Scott invites Christina Bianco onto the stage. Unlike the rest of the evening the pre-song banter had a slightly rehearsed feel about it before they launched into a duet, mashing up Judy Garland’s ‘Get Happy’ and Barbara Streisand’s ‘Happy Days are Here Again’ into a gorgeously clever countermelody.
Currently on tour (“no tour bus – just a rail replacement bus”) with ‘The Cher Show’ it is testament to her stamina and supreme vocal technique that she can fly by Crazy Coqs to deliver such an impassioned set. But you feel that she wouldn’t miss it for the world. Scott is her own, self-contained ‘joie de vivre”, which the audience cannot avoid soaking up, just as we love being the butt of her jokes. “Thank you for letting me complain to you all night” she quips by way closing the show – with a singalong. A show that opened with Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’. Well – we wouldn’t be able to stop her. Even if we wanted to. Which we, quite emphatically, don’t.
Reviewed on 5th February 2023
by Jonathan Evans
Previously reviewed at this venue: