Regina Spektor live at the Tabernacle Feb 29, 2008

I arrived at the Tabernacle after the opener had finished and before Regina had started. I think it had been at least 4 years since I had been to that venue, and I couldn’t remember what to expect. The general admission area on the floor was slightly smaller than I remembered, but it was absolutely packed. The show was sold out and Ms. Spektor had rescheduled this show twice due to sickness. The crowd was very enthusiastic, and it was so full it was hard to find a great place to stand. I wound up near the back on the left side (the right side would have put us on the wrong side of the piano).

Regina takes the stage, and honestly she had a bit of a goofy gait and a goofy grin. You coud tell she was genuinely flattered by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, but the way she carried herself you would never expect that this is a person with much prowess in any skill set. How wrong that initial impression would be.

On the stage was just a piano, a mic, and a guitar. I had heard some of her live recordings and knew that she doesn’t usually play with a band. Her opening number was just her and the microphone. She started tapping a basic rhythm on the mic and singing an otherwise unaccompanied melody, and it was captivating. It immediately made you realize that when she’s singing there isn’t a need for much accompaniment.

After that opening number (which I didn’t recognize) she went right into “on the radio,” which drew loud roars of approval from the largely female crowd. The show proceeded and was almost exclusively just piano + vocals. There were a few exceptions – she played two songs on guitar: “that time” & “bobbing for apples.” On a later song, she played a chair with a drumstick in her right hand while playing the piano with the left hand. At the same time she was singing and stomping a beat with her foot – a very impressive one woman band effect. The audience did so much singing along that at times it sounded like there was a weird echo or reverb on a lot of the songs.

Her main set was pretty short, clocking in at just a hair over one hour. She left and came back to do several songs for the encore. She also spent some time talking to the audience about how grateful she was for their enthusiasm, how she had visited the aquarium and thought it was “so fucking cool,” and how “she felt like she was in a dream.” She said she had opened for The Strokes years ago at the same venue (which seems like a strange pairing to me), and would have never believed at the time that she would someday be headlining here.

One of the most impressive moments was during her encores she performed “Hotel song,” and invited someone out on stage with her (presumably from the opening band) to do beatbox for that song and sing harmonies. It was a fantastic effect and maybe the highlight of the performance. She closed the show with “Sampson.”

Overall it was a great performance, and it really left me with the impression of how talented she is. You get the impression that music is her one natural element in the world and you really get to see her personality come through when she’s behind the piano. The one problem with the show was that the volume was a little low. It sounded like the piano was not mic’ed and they still didn’t turn the vocal mic quite loud enough for the piano. This is an artist who relies heavily on her lyrics as part of the entertainment, and it’s frustrating when it’s not quite loud enough to understand all the lyrics. I knew going in that I would rather see her in a smaller venue, and I left the show feeling that sentiment stronger than ever.  Still, if you have the chance to see her – go!  Just get close to the stage.

One Response to “Regina Spektor live at the Tabernacle Feb 29, 2008”

  1. Lindsay says:

    I got invited to see her in Nashville at the Ryman? And then she fainted during her soundcheck and the show was canceled. And they didn’t inform us until thirty minutes after the show was supposed to start, even though the soundcheck was that afternoon. And Samson is my favorite song. Damn, damn, damn.