Regina Spektor's North American tour rolled into town last night in support of her new album "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats." The crowd at The Beacon welcomed her as a returning hometown hero, and she reciprocated with an energetic performance. Here's what we saw:
Venue: The Beacon is second only to Radio City for a sit-down show. Regina's voice completely filled the place, and the intricate filigrees and gold-leaf that paints the place was a nice match for her intricate, beautiful songs.
Crowd: We went in expecting a Kate Nash scene, all teenage girls and their parental escorts. Surprisingly, the crowd seemed a little older, mostly post-college, with some gray hairs. Mostly white, hipsterish couples, with just a smattering of creepy single guys with obvious Jewess fetishes. Everyone stayed in their seats, but there was a standing ovation before the encore, and plenty of people yelling "we love you" and "welcome home, Reggie." One girl screamed out "marry me" halfway through the set.
Performance: Regina's songs, like her voice, show a wide range, from the smokey a capella of "Ain't No Cover", to the quiet lyricism of "Firewood", to the fast, upbeat pop songs like "Fidelity," "Hotel Song," or "Ne Me Quitte Pas." She's at her most lovely on her soaring, religious-infused anthems, like "Samson", which she used as the closer.
Her stage presence is bashful and heartbreakingly cute—she reminds you of one of those brilliant, creative, busty girls at Hebrew school who you're secretly in love with but too scared to speak to, and who you'll think about on and off for the next twenty or thirty years. She repeatedly spilled water on herself, laughed, and at one point got sweetly political, ripping into Romney and saying "I'm so pissed off sanity has become a lost cause."
And yet she never missed a note, and despite the complexity of the songs and the length of the set, never let her energy flag—perhaps the ditzy affect is just a front, covering up the steely professionalism of the classical pianist she once aspired to be. This comes through especially strong when she sings in Russian—gone is the lilt and crooked smile—all you hear is her soaring, powerful, perfect voice, and it sounds deadly serious.
Setlist: (open on Spotify)
Ain't No Cover (a cappella)
All The Rowboats (very fast and electronic)
The Prayer of Francois Villon (in Russian)
Call Them Brothers (with Jack Dishel, her husband, who opened)
Dance Anthem of the 80s
Don't Leave Me / Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ballad of a Politician (dedicated to Mitt Romney)
Sailor Song (with insane vocal solo)