Cheese on Toast sent Auckland-based singer-songwriter NADIA REID along to see Regina Spektor earlier this week – here’s her review….
Moscow-born, Bronx-raised, wordsmith come beatboxer, come “anti-folk” artist Regina Spektor enchanted a highly attentive and appreciative audience at Auckland’s Town Hall on Monday 3rd December. Spektor is an acquired taste; an eccentric, intelligent writer who is notorious for her unconventional vocal techniques. I was anticipating this night immensely having listened to Spektor avidly since 2006. It was the track ‘Consequence of Sound’ off her second studio album ‘Songs’ that caught my attention and songs like ‘Apres Moi’, ‘Field Below’, and ‘Back Of A Truck’ were remedies during my angsty teen years. Regina Spektor already had my full respect – and my heart – and I would not need a lot of winning over tonight.
The night began with New York-based solo musician, Only Son, a.k.a Jack Dishel, a.k.a Regina Spektors’ husband. I wanted to like Dishel, I really did, considering who his wife is. Unfortunately, his choice of a backing band – backing tracks via his iPod – left me mildly un-impressed. I dare say it, but he reminded me of the monotonous singer from Green Day. I tried hard to give full attention and witnessed a few special moments when the backing tracks were minimal or replaced by a cicadas song. He had charm though, and invited us to connect with him on Instagram (cringe worthy) and other forms of social media, he then told us he’d be hanging by the merchandise desk after the show, and to come say hi. I declined that offer.
The interval rolled around, we waited, waved at a friend across the room, waited some more, and as soon as the blue lights came up the crowd went silent. A petite, attractive woman, dressed in navy blue entered the stage, without a word, smiling contagiously. Her opening greeting song was a’cappella ‘Ain’t No Cover’, a blue lament, I later discovered was from a live e.p recorded back in 2005 – a new favourite of mine.
By the third song in, ‘The Calculation’ and ‘On The Radio’, Regina paused for a moment, obvious there was something up, she softly let us know that the stage lighting was too bright, and she couldn’t see the keys of her piano. Audience members called out their two cents, ‘bring her a lamp’ one joked, ‘move the piano’ another yelled. Regina politely apologized, ‘it’s sweet as, we love you’ a fan blurted. For what seemed an easily fixable task, it took longer than desirable, Regina left the stage, the lights went up, and we were comforted by Roy Orbison over the speakers. We sighed, we felt sorry for her, while my row sat patiently waiting for the problem to be fixed, others got up and went back to the bar. Fifteen-minutes passed and Spektor returned to the stage followed with thunderous applause. At last, she went straight into ‘Small Town Moon’ and all was well. As the song ended I looked around, wishing the town hall was fuller. She deserved that. I also wondered why only a handful of my friends had come to this concert. Still, we were the lucky ones and were going to soak every moment up.
A mixture of both new and old came next, ‘Ode To Divorce’, ‘Patron Saint’ , and ‘How’, the third single off Regina’s latest album ‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats’, which has received generally favourable reviews and was described by a Sputnikmusic reviewer as her “best effort yet”. I agree. A poised, self-assured singer continued effortlessly, I was captivated by her, the way her fingers danced on and around the keys, her posture prompted me to sit up straighter, she possesses a profoundness about her that gives the impression she is truly in her element. Not saying much between songs, she is much calmer than I expected (perhaps the jet lag). She compliments us on the beauty of our country and cutely tells us about her adventure with a horse named Wilson down in the south island. Only Son returns to the stage to perform ‘Call Them Brothers’, a co-written song with Regina, not my favourite moment, but a nice one.
Her piano driven, poetic and vocally broad songs leave me wanting more. She carried on with classics, ‘Us’, and ‘Sailor Song’’, the singles, ‘All The Rowboats’, ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, and the final (and best) song of the night, ‘Samson’, earning Regina a well-deserved standing ovation. Favourites also featured, ‘Oh Marcello’, The Party’, and ‘Blue Lips’, 24 songs altogether and I left Auckland’s Town Hall satisfied. In a hurry, I brushed past a mix of old and young, male and female, fans were beginning to line up to be photographed with Only Son. I went home, hopped into bed and played every Regina Spektor CD I had in my collection until I fell asleep. I woke up a very happy Regina Spektor fan.
Words by NADIA REID
Photos by REN KIRK
NADIA REID IS AN AUCKLAND BASED SINGER/SONGWRITER
CHECK OUT HER EP – “Letters I Wrote and Never Sent” here
Plus more at Bandcamp