November 7, 2007
Better Than: Stolichnaya
Download: “On the Radio” live video
Last night, a sold-out crowd pissed off Regina Spektor. Early into her set, Spektor declared that holding the mic entitled her to one request: quiet. “I can’t even hear myself think,” she complained. The audience, packed wall to wall, was dominated by college-age twentysomethings who couldn’t seem to hold their liquor.
“Isn’t there some sort of fuckin’ lounge that you could go to?” asked Spektor. Her sass garnered applause and set the tone for the rest of the show, as she proved to be not only a performer who owns the limelight but also one not afraid to toy with her audience.
Alone onstage with a shiny black concert grand piano, Spektor is even more impressive in person than in the studio. Her voice is pitch-perfect and crystal-clear, punctuated by the occasional intentional hiccup or growl. The audience chimed in during familiar tunes from last year’s Begin to Hope like “On the Radio,” “Better” and “That Time.” The Bronx (by way of Moscow) gal also delved into her back catalog with songs such as “Mary Ann” and “Poor Little Rich Boy.”
During the latter, she forgot the words while drumming with one hand and tinkling ivories with the other, resulting in the exclamation, “Fuck! I’m starting over!” Beginning the song again, she forgot the same words, and shouted, “Fuck! Does anybody know the fucking words to my own fucking song?!” The audience lapped it up.
Eventually, Spektor hopped off the stage to ask a fan for the words. “Who would write such a song?” she asked; “I always fuck up something new so I can’t ever prepare for it. It’s frustrating.” Thanks to a fan in the front row, she finished the song, hollering “Thank you!!” heavenward after getting through the troublesome passage with the lyrics intact.
Spektor polished off the concert with four (count ‘em) encores, including the radio hit “Fidelity.” For the final song, she asked opener Only Son to join her onstage. The guitarist’s earlier set had been unremarkable, but he redeemed himself by beat-boxing as the only accompaniment to Spektor’s “Hotel Song.” Only Son should consider a slight career shift, as his beat-box prowess far outweighs his ability as a singer-songwriter.
Throughout the show, Spektor was uniquely herself, equal parts classical virtuoso and quirky anti-folk artist. Few musicians today can match her talent and eccentricity. – Linda Leseman
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Personal Bias: I like pianers.
Random Detail: There were three large light bulbs hanging over the piano and a backdrop of twinkling stars that lit up during the final song.