The show was billed as “A Very Special Solo Performance” by Regina Spektor. And it certainly felt special. She was chatty and giggly between songs and seemed to sincerely appreciate the enthusiastic adoration of her fans at the sold out 20 Monroe Live. I’ve never been to a concert where the fans whiplashed between shouts of obnoxious requests and exclamations of love to complete silence and reverence as soon as the next song began.
Spektor took it all in. She spent most of the time seated at her Steinway grand, but played a couple songs on her blue Epiphone Royale, and a few on an electric piano. She even sang a capella, including the charming rarity, “Reginasaurus.”
Her songs are written from a unique perspective. She’s sometimes lumped in with the antifolkies of New York from the turn of the millennium, but I dunno. Her music sounds more like Stravinsky than the Moldy Peaches. Her classical piano training is obvious, although she clearly relishes subverting that by playing with one hand and beating on stuff with a drumstick in the other. Or making trumpet sounds with her mouth. Or beatboxing. Or singing about bobbing for apples in Somalia while “someone next door’s fucking to one of my songs.” At one point she explained why she doesn’t like people to clap along with her songs: “It’s nice, but I actually stretch time.”
She was valiantly fighting a “battle with phlegm, guys,” but she didn’t let it affect her singing. She’s got powerful voice although she’s rarely showy about it. She whispered between songs, gently admonishing someone up front for tapping away on their screen. “What’s happening that’s so important? There’s important things happening all the time now. I never feel boredom anymore. I just feel angry.” She quoted someone who said that boredom is necessary in order to to create poetry. And now we’ve traded boredom for anger.
The entire set was a mix of favorites and obscurities with Spektor peppering her stage banter with profanity. “How are we gonna make America unfucked, guys? I dedicate this to getting these motherfuckers out!” The audience went wild as she launched into “Ballad of a Politician.”
I don’t know how we’re going to unfuck America, but I think the process should probably start by spreading the influence of quirky Russians like Spektor as opposed to whatever it is we’re currently getting tricked into liking on Facebook.
Photos by Jolie Brown for Glorious Noise.
This setlist is not entirely accurate, but shows a rough outline of what she intended to play. She inserted “Mermaid” before “Prisoners,” added “Reginasaurus” and “My Man,” and mixed a few songs around. During the encore she did not play “Hotel Song,” and I don’t think she played “Blue Lips” either.