Not only is she an incredibly unique singer, Tori Allen-Martin keeps herself busy with writing her own original content, while having also founded Interval Productions therefore she directs and produces with the company. Being no stranger to Freedom Bar in Soho, Tori held her own gig this Monday – “The Tori Party”.
Having volunteered to help Tori out on the night, I had the chance to properly meet her briefly during her soundcheck before the gig. Despite busily organising all the last minute checks she was incredibly kind and down to earth, a quality I admire most in people!
Tori opened the show with a fierce mash-up of Rihanna’s S&M and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, accompanied by friends and backing vocalists Sarah Page and Ria Cherrelle. After an energised opening number Tori then sang Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down which is a total contrast to the song previous, showing everyone with ease the versatility that she has with her vocals. She then spoke of her friend Benedict and the music he writes, and spoke about the show they’ve recently put on with Interval Productions, “Another Way“, and Tori sang Is It Over? from the show. As well as singing his work beautifully, Tori sung his praises before performing.
Following this gorgeous number, Tori invited her first guest of the evening onto the stage and Ambra Caserotti joined her to perform James Arthur’s Impossible. Their friendship was so tangibly apparent through the way their voices worked so well together, it was definitely a perfect match! Mixing some more contemporary pop music into the set, Tori then sang Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, and even when taking these songs she puts her own spin onto them, not totally sticking to the pop sound and not sounding wholly musical theatre which is where her roots lie, she merges these together to create her own unique sound.
Thanking Benedict for introducing her to the next song, Tori began to sing London Grammar’s Strong before the incredibly apt MD Susanna Squires sang also. Following Susanna, backing vocalists Sarah and Ria sang their own verses and finally all of them joined together, creating a wonderful arrangement.
Not only does Tori write, produce and direct, she enjoys being an ambassador of new talent, and is constantly on the search for individuals who she feels deserve their time in the spotlight, which I find so fascinating as she never seems as fussed about garnering fame for herself, she’d rather help boost other individuals up. It’s just amazing to see someone so kind and nurturing in this way in an industry that can be so harsh. Therefore, for her gig Tori put together a quick competition via Twitter of the ‘search for a new talent’ variety, and found her next act, Nick Chiappetta. He sang an insane version of Emelie Sandé’s Next To Me, riffing through it with absolute ease, I could easily see why Tori picked him from the entries she received!
Inviting another guest up to sing with her, Tori brought Ben Cousins onto the stage to perform Jessie J’s Nobody’s Perfect. Tori’s voice is perfect to match with Jessie J’s style so she sounded incredible singing this, her and Ben sang fantastically together and again it was the reinforcement of being able to see friendship with the people Tori performs with which incredibly amplifies the power of the songs.
Tori briefly mentioned what sort of year she’s been having and how it hadn’t been the easiest but she felt like she was coming full circle with it, and said that the next song would be an empowering one, going on to defiantly sing Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper.
Closing her first act, Tori invited the boys from “The 8th Fold” onto the stage to perform Ground Zero. They recently performed in a concert to showcase the new musical and sadly I missed that concert so was very grateful that Tori had asked them to perform. Luckily I heard them perform twice as I heard them in the soundcheck too and they all sounded incredible both times. From what I know of the show (which sadly isn’t a lot!), it focus’ on the American war on terror, and how the lives of these boys or men have been affected by it. In Ground Zero they touchingly sang about building a life from Ground Zero and created beautiful yet harrowing imagery through sublime harmonies and just gorgeous vocals, ending the act on a somber yet thoroughly impressed note.
Freestyle vocalist Matt Wills opened the second act, and if any of you have read my blog on Kinky Kabaret you’ll already know a bit about his style. Asking the audience for three different words, he freestyled them into a song, asking for three more later on and seamlessly incorporating those too, his talent in it really is so impressive! Tori then joined Matt to perform his own song, City Lights.
Tori then performed another James Arthur number with Certain Things and proved again her versatility and voice full of emotion. Moving away from the slower numbers, the beat was picked up with a mash-up of The Temptation’s Just My Imagination and Franki Valli’s My Eyes Adored You moulding together perfectly!
Having mentioned earlier about the sort of year she’d had, Tori also spoke about how when she was around the age of 20 she’d been unhappily locked in a contract feeling like there was no escape from it. However after taking a summer course in theatre which is where her passion lay, she met Paul Spicer who helped her in getting on the track to doing what she really wanted to do, and so she brought him onto the stage to sing Avicii’s Wake Me Up. As Paul sang, Tori looked at him with such admiration and it was the same with Paul when Tori picked up the song, they performed so happily together, it was so sweet.
Recently Tori went to South Africa for just over two weeks to work on some things that she isn’t actually allowed to speak about, in fact there were quite a few things she wasn’t allowed to talk about but teasingly mentioned! However what she could tell us about was some of her original work and then performed Light in the Dark and Let Me Go, two absolutely beautiful original songs. It’s one thing to have a good voice and sing other people’s songs fantastically, but to create your own music and sing it with such raw emotion, that’s something special.
Matt and Ben then came back onto the stage to sing with Tori on their stripped back cover of Katy Perry’s Roar which I love! After hearing at Kinky Kabaret I’ve been hoping to hear them do it again and certainly wasn’t left disappointed.
Next Tori performed Mumford and Son’s Home, backed by Sarah and Ria. Even when a glass was smashed at the bar during the song brilliantly none of them were deterred from giving a stunning performance. Following this was Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, which I have to say I much preferred hearing when paired with Tori’s sublime vocals.
They ended the show with a pumped mash-up of Britney Spears’ Radar and Cheryl Cole’s Ghetto Baby and afterwards in her true style Tori thanked everyone and told them to get drunk! Ultimately I thought it was a fantastic gig, with an eclectic mix of songs that normally wouldn’t be put in a set together I don’t think, but with Tori’s style and vision they one hundred percent worked.
Tori’s an incredibly talented young woman with such a positive outlook on life, I can honestly say she deserves the absolute best in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing her create and do amazing things hopefully very soon!