Thursday, March 31, 2005

THE HAUNTING PRESENCE OF REGINA SPEKTOR



At 12:40 AM, Regina Spektor, a doe-eyed Russian-born pianist/songwriter, returned to the Bowery Ballroom stage for her encore. With a genuine look of surprise, Spektor had finally noticed that half of her audience had already left the venue. But it was understood why they had; after all, not everyone can handle a two-and-a-half hour show and Spektor, the consummate performer, had begun her performance at 10:15.

"Why didn't you tell me I was playing for two and a half hours?!?" Spektor both genuinely and rhetorically asked the remaining crowd. "I can't believe you let me play that long!"

Playing for her largest audience yet, Spektor reveled in her captive audience by playing a majority of the songs in her catalogue, which, unbeknownst to me, is pretty significant. Some would consider that prospect a threat but I found Regina captivating and enchanting, a practiced entertainer who never felt predictable . [It should be noted that Regina had previously played much larger venues but they were opening for the Strokes and Kings of Leon and during those sets, she was frequently booed and also asked to take her shirt off] Maintaining the consistent and haunting stage presence that felt like a mixture of a rhapsody singer from the Depression era crossed with a naive and curious child that had just discovered the wonders of music (each word is sung with either a seductive pant or an astonished pronouncement),Spektor "performed" each tune as if they were mini-plays, absorbing the essence of the song's true narrator. It didn't matter that she was only accompanied by a cello and bass (for the first half of the show)--her voice, a Tori Amos-Joni Mitchell bastardization, engulfed the room with a candlelit fullness.

As my girlfriend Shana had astutely pointed out, Spektor is a unique musician because she places an emphasis on her creativity, acting out lyrics from her songs,(i.e., repeating the word "drip" in staccato like it was an actual droplet of water dripping from a sink), ending the dubious trend of the hipster musician's bland and lifeless delivery. Granted Regina Spektor's performance takes a small amount of cynicism-suspension. Flipping her thick, red curls from side-to-side like a nervous schoolgirl, giggling in near-silence as if it were inappropriate to laugh, Regina comes very close to feeling shticky but ultimately, she stirred with her eloquent piano-playing that sometimes sounded classical, sometimes klezmer, sometimes jazz, all the while confessional.

- Watch Regina Spektor's video for her newest single "Us" here.

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Blogger Emzie said...

Wow look at all the spam.
Sorry about that.

Anyway, I love Regina Spektor and I can't wait for her new album in June.

It makes me sad to know that people actually booed her and yelled at her to take her shirt off! Do people have no respect.
But I've had a similar expirence, when I went to a show for Cyndi Lauper, Regina was the opening act and people were just talking and walking around. I was actually there for Regina and not Cyndi and I almost yelled for those people to shut up!

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