The evening ended much like it began: with Regina Spektor on stage, issuing an austere rendition one of her many imaginative songs about love and all its splendor and consequences.
On Wednesday night, between those songs, joined by a three-piece band (cello, keyboards, drums), she kept a crowd of more than 2,500 inside the Music Hall in her charming thrall, exhibiting her esteemed talents as a composer, lyricist, musician and singer, though her voice at times can be the least interesting of her gifts.
She would play nine tracks from the deluxe edition of that album Wednesday during a 95-minute set. Whether she was playing something new, like “Patron Saint” or “All the Rowboats,” or an old favorite, like “On the Radio,” “Dance Anthem of the ’80s” or “Fidelity,” her audience rewarded her with gales of applause. Between most songs, they excessively bombarded her with song requests and expressions of affection and support.
For the most part, she let her music do the talking, though she did admit to eating “so much barbecue I can’t think.”
She had to restart one song (“One”), and she paused for several seconds during another because she couldn’t remember the lyrics ("Samson"); otherwise she delivered a polished performance that was filled with clever lyrical odysseys and rapturous musical escapades.
Her brightest gift is for writing pop songs with inventive twists. Most of her songs invite sing-alongs, but they often first take some getting used to. One of those is “Small Town Moon,” a piano ballad with a sunny melody that belies some of the gray-day lyrics: “There’s a small town in my mind / How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?”
That was a “Cheap Seats” song that provoked a warm reaction; so did “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas),” a ditty with an irresistible melody and lyrics that showcase her fetish for abstract wordplay. The cello lead on that song was stellar. Other highlights: “Firewood,” the prettiest song on “Cheap Seats,” and “Sailor Song.”
She played a few songs solo at the piano, including “The Prayer of Francois Villon.” She sang the opener, “Ain’t No Cover,” a capella, tapping on her microphone occasionally for some percussion. “Call Them Brothers” was performed as a guitar duet with her husband, Jack Dishel, who opened the show as Only Son.
She ended her four-song encore with a song that had been requested several times, “Samson” — the hymn whose lyrics she forgot. She was alone at the piano for that one, too, rendering another bittersweet tale of love come and gone to a crowd that expressed its deep infatuation and hung on each word, down to the evening’s final line: “You are my sweetest downfall / I loved you first.”
| Timothy Finn, The Star