Friday, October 19, 2012 at 8:20 a.m.
With Only Son
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Thursday, October 18, 2012
A talented girl needs no more than a piano and her voice to enchant an audience, and Regina Spektor had more than enough talent to fill the room Thursday night at the State Theatre. With a shimmering smile framed by red lipstick, the singer shared songs from her latest album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
, along with favorite oldies which were met with appreciative applause.
Regina Spektor at the State Theatre, 9/11/09
Opening with "Ain't No Cover," Regina approached the stage to a spotlit mic to perform an a capella version of the song, providing the beats by tapping out the rhythm into the mic with her finger. Set amidst a sea of floating paper, the range of Spektor's songs range from love to break-up to songs about life -- most are narrative with a twist -- much like life. With her mini band, a cellist, drummer, and keyboardist, Spektor was able to shine for her twenty-four song set. Her cellist was able to create a haunting backdrop for "Ode to Divorce," a tongue in cheek song about, well divorce.
To the inevitable shouts of "I Love You," Spektor responded each time by whispering, "Thank you," into the mic. Genuinely sincere, the singer was as humble as can be, covering her mouth when she smiled, as if amazed by the fact that people were there to see her. Regina's voice can cover a lot of ranges, soulful and sultry like on "How" and eerie for her current single "All the Rowboats," even providing the beatboxing on the song. Saying that sometimes she is afraid she'll get stuck just beatboxing, "It feels a little too natural." Not providing too much narrative between songs, the banter was not necessarily missed, for everyone of her songs contained mini-stories framed by her charming storytelling.
Following the lovely "Blue Lips," Spektor brought out a song that she did not write. "The Prayer of Francois Villon," was performed by a Regina onstage solo with her piano. The guttural language stretched the panorama of her vocal range, bringing a touch of Eastern culture into the theater. Once finished, a gentleman shouted out, "Spasibo," meaning "Thank you" to a demure Spektor.
For "Call Them Brothers," Regina brought back to the stage her opener and husband, Jack Dishel of Only Son. The two penned the song together, and blended their harmonies perfectly within the piece to an acoustic guitar. Before breaking into the '80s flavored dance song, "Dance Anthem of the '80s," the singer shared a fun fact: she ate a lot of garlic mashed potatoes before the show and claiming that, "It's always worth it."
While many of her older pieces may be about unrequited love, much of her new album has a more upbeat feel like "Don't Leave Me [Ne Me Quitte Pas]." "Ballad of a Politician," while in English, has a Russian flavor folded into the melody, and introduced a new sound with a robotic backing vocals harmonizing with Regina's vocals. Much like Rufus Wainwright in that he writes songs about his friends, Spektor channels Wainwright in storytelling and aesthetic for "Sailor Song," a piece where we learn how much of a bitch Mary Anne can be.
"Open," a spooky song that integrated Spektor's growling gasps as part of the music, her second to last song in the regular set was very much a dichotomy to "The Party," a tune that contains the optimistically delightful lyrics, "You taste like birthday, you look like New Year's." The singer was not going to leave the audience without her biggest hit, "Fidelity," but the best part of the encore was her solo performance of "Samson," a tender love song meant to break hearts. As simple as the evening was, the room was filled with love for Regina. Maybe we should all take her advice to, "Love what you have, and you'll have more love."
Critic's bias: I knew two of Regina's songs coming into the evening, and she was able to convince me of her talent with her performance this evening.
The crowd: A lot of young women and some older folks.
Overheard in the crowd: "She's as cute as a button" and "She is much better live."
Random notebook dump: How do you define yourself as an artist where people stand up during your show versus a sitdown show? I was at the State a month ago for Metric, and people were on their feet the whole show.
Ain't No Cover
On the Radio
Small Town Moon
Ode to Divorce
All the Rowboats
The Prayer of Francois Villon
Call The Brothers
Dance Anthem of the '80s
Don't Leave Me [Ne Me Quitte Pas]
Ballad of a Politician