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Regina Spektor knows what her audience wants, and there’s nothing she loves more than holding back to drive them nuts. The Orpheum buzzed Thursday evening after openers and Spektor’s good friends Only Son left the stage after a five-song set. The six-piece group (including, we kid not, a designated tambourine player) has accompanied Spektor on this leg of her national tour, and have become collaborators in the process. From high school freshmen just dying to hear ‘Us’ to their equally excited parents, it was no surprise when the theater burst into rancorous applause whdn Regina Spektor graced the stage.
Arriving in a cap-sleeved green dress, Spektor opened her show a cappella with ‘Ain’t No Cover’, then retreated to her place of comfort behind an enormous baby grand piano. “This piano’s been travelling a lot lately,” she remarked in her offhand, breathy voice. “It’s a really good one.”
Accompanied by a cellist, backup keyboard, and drums, Spektor spent the next hour and a half treating the audience to her best from the early 2000s up to preview tracks from her new album ‘What We Saw From the Cheap Seats’, slotted to be released at the end of the month. Huge cheers accompanied ‘Small Town Moon’, ‘On the Radio’, ‘Us’, and ‘Laughing With’. Between the hits, she sang a new collaborative track with Jack Dishel, lead singer of Only Son and lead guitarist of The Moldy Peaches, as well as performing an improvised a cappella song in the middle of her set. “Blue eyes, they change like the weather… I wouldn’t trust my own eyes,” she crooned, tapping the microphone to keep the beat. “Of course, these are just eye color generalizations, you shouldn’t listen to a word I say.” With a laugh, she returned to the piano.
Most interesting of all, Spektor has retained a nervousness about performing live in spite of a decade of fame, looking at the adoring crowd with a little apprehension before beginning each song. These moments were fleeting, though– when the piano began to play, she disappeared within her song and emerged, always a little nervous, on the other side. When the inevitable encore arrived, she smiled sweetly. “Could we just pretend I left the stage and came back?” The audience responded with an instantaneous standing ovation, and she wrapped the show with favorites ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Samson’ accompanied only by her baby grand.
The Regina Spektor live experience was nothing short of her musical image personified — impressive, theatrical, and above all, impossibly charming. To put it in her own words- “You’re like a big parade in the center of town, you leave such a mess, but you’re so much fun.” Thursday night was Regina’s parade, and there is no doubt every audience member had some serious fun. Even from the cheap seats, Regina sparkled.
She will continue to tour this month in support of What We Saw From the Cheap Seats until its release on May 29th.