Regina Spektor at the United Palace Theater, May 15, 2012

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Reviews

Regina Spektor performing live at New York’s United Palace Theater on May 15, 2012

The lights dim, and a yellow spotlight illuminates a small cylinder stage right at Manhattan’s United Palace Theater, a converted Church located on 175th and Broadway.  A flowing voice that sits somewhere between high and deep washes over the crowd as Regina Spektor, a dainty five-foot-two pale skinned Russian girl with curly brown locks wearing a bright red dress glides into the light.  “This aint’ no cover, it ain’t no style,” sings Spektor, mournfully, unaccompanied by her minimalist band (a drummer, a cellist, a keyboardist.)  Though her backing band proved to be vital and talented, the opener, “Ain’t No Cover” displayed several aspects of Spektor’s stage presence: her soulful power as an artist, her remarkable voice and her bold personality.  Not many artists can kick off a show by singing completely alone, though Spektor captivated the 3,293 fans in the small, sold-out theater by doing so.

Regina blasted through pretty much every one of her hits, including several new singles off her May 25th, 2012 record, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, the peppy, French-twanged “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” and the mysterious “All the Rowboats,” a song about priceless paintings hanging on a museum’s walls.  My personal favorites were her encores, which also happen to be her biggest hits, the pretty, “Us,” from her breakout record, 2004’s Soviet Kitsch, the cheerful, lovey-dovey “Fidelity” and the extraordinarily beautiful “Samson” off of her 2006 masterpiece Begin to Hope.  Other special performances included the 2006 hit “On the Radio” and 2008’s Far’s “Blue,” “Laughing With,” and “Dance Anthem of the 80s.”

I was completely enthralled by her adorable stage presence, how meek and tender she seems in front of an audience regardless of the fact that she is a highly successful recording and touring artist who has released a gold album and is constantly on the bills of major music festivals.  Though, the intimacy of her shows is what is so appealing about them.  Her music isn’t anything like Def Leppard or Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi—it isn’t geared for massive stadiums the likes of Madison Square Garden or England’s Wembley Stadium and so on and so forth.  And sitting in that small converted church, I felt her magical voice that more closely resembles a musical instrument than any other singer’s since Freddie Mercury.  I find that I prefer live Spektor to studio Spektor as she plays most of her songs on a massive, grand piano.  In her more recent live performances, including the one for which I was present, she leaves the heavy studio production behind, (hence her small band) which gives her music a more raw, deeper and truer sound.

She completely enchanted me, drawing me into her songs, despite my embarrassingly sparse knowledge of Spektor’s music, limited to five, maybe six songs.  Usually, if I attend a live performance and hear songs with which I am unfamiliar, I promise myself that I will go home and listen to them right after the show, though they never remain in my mind for long enough for me to recall them at a later date.  This was not the case after the Regina Spektor concert.  I remembered every single song I heard well enough to listen to her albums upon returning home and point out which songs she played, even before actually looking at an official setlist.  Seeing Regina live is a relaxed, enjoyable and happy experience. Perhaps if someone is interested in seeing extremely meticulous and technical musicianship, powered by loudness and chaotic guitar solos, drum fills and organ licks, seeing Regina isn’t for you.  But if you are in the mood for a chill evening filled with simple, nice and melodious tunes, definitely see Ms. Spektor for she will provide you with one fantastically fun night.

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