Regina Spektor @ Royal Albert Hall 2nd July 2012

Regina Spektor has been a favourite of mine since I first heard the quirky Fidelity all those years ago. The last Spektor gig I attended was the HMV Apollo one back in 2009 which was recorded and released as a DVD/Blu Ray/ Vinyl and CD. Regina coming to the UK is a thing that hasn’t happened that often (the last time she played here London was missed out). Earlier this year tickets for two special Regina shows went on sale. These dates were in Manchester and the other being London. My ticket was purchased through the Ticketline pre sale at 9am. Thinking about it I could of left it a little later as it took a while to sell out on pre sale but it is better to get it done straight away rather than just leaving it till later.

This tour was to coincide with the recently released What We Saw From The Cheap Seats which I must say is an incredible album. It was actually the first time I had been to the Royal Albert Hall. Putting everything into perspective I decided to arrive at 11.30am. Firstly I love Regina’s music and secondly it was sold out so there should be people queuing around at that time. It turned out I was wrong the first person after me turned up 4 hours later. Still I was going to get front row for the gig which I was pleased about. Fast forward to 6.45pm and this was where it got tense. As there were 2 entrances when inside it was a run to the front. If someone let in one side a few seconds early then the other side were screwed. Thankfully this didn’t happen ut the crucial thing was where to stand. For Regina gigs you need to be in the right place because her piano is sideways meaning one half is just seeing her back and the other has a decent view. I opted left side of the microphone which was already on the stage. Looking back on it my view was perfect as I saw Regina on piano and I saw Regina when she was off it. The one thing that irked some people I knew was the no filming policy. Now that was slightly annoying as you do really want something to look back on. The evening opened with Only Son. Well it was just Jack Dishel and his iPod which had to be charged up during the set. Now I quite liked the acoustic songs that he performed. It was around 9pm when Regina Spektor took to the stage.

“Hi, This is amazing. This is insane. This is insanely amazing. I can’t believe I’m here. My dress is falling apart” Regina said before opening with Ain’t No Cover which was an a capella. Spektor’s vocals were extremely powerful and I was left wowed by this incredible opening. This song featured on the Live at Bull Moose CD. “This is crazy. I just saw the latest incarnation of this space that I have seen. I’ve never been here before and I’ve seen it a lot in film and on the TV and the last time I saw this place was when I was on a plane and I was watching the return of Ab Fab and there it was. So yeah I could pretend” Spektor then said to the sold out Royal Albert Hall. It was then onto The Calculation which was taken from the last album Far. There was a beat to it but it sounded like there was a reggae vibe to it. Well The Calculation was a catchy song with a brilliant chorus. It is up tempo and I would say it is my one of my favourite songs off the of Far. “I’m so sorry. This f*cking piano it’s like what am I going to do. I wish I could face you all. Maybe a rotating stage and a flexi glass piano and some sort of a rotational device. Time Space Continuum alternator. It feels like I’m inadvertently shunning you and I’m not” Regina then said before launching into the first new song of the night and this being Small Town Moon. This tune was a lovely piano driven ballad about someone struggling with the decision to move away from their home town. “This place is crazy” Spektor said whispering into her mic. It was then onto Blue Lips which was taken from Far. This song was rather delivered strongly and was slightly haunting at the same time. Patron Saint was played immediately after. I found it to be very upbeat and a happy song. This song was perfectly delivered. It was then onto another song from the new album and this being How. This is probably one of my favourites from the new album. How was a beautiful ballad with lovely emotional lyrics and Spektor put everything into this performance. The first single taken from What We Saw From The Cheap Seats was the next to be played and this being All The Rowboats. Now this was a quirky confessional song. You could see it as vintage Regina. For those in the know Spektor has been performing the track live since at least 2005. It was then onto Laughing With. It was a nice, light song and it delivered a strong message. The lyrics are brilliant and powerful as well. Regina sings about God and no one laughs at him. Next it is was onto something from the Soviet Kitsch period and this being Sailor Song. This was delivered powerfully and there were a lot of cheers when Regina launched into it. “I can’t, this thing is right here. What are we going to do I can’t turn around I’m sorry. I feel so guilty. Maybe there’s like a way to reflect. We should get a mirror. Oh no but then I would have to f*cking see myself. That’s no solution. Well next time I’ll come and sit that way. I’ll just take turns, I’ll keep a meticulous notebook of cities. It’s going to be a logistical nightmare. This whole life is a logistical nightmare” Spektor said just before the dramatic opening to Eet. This was a beautiful song. Regina has an amazing voice. The lyrics are brilliant and the tune does get slightly pacey as the it progresses. The lyrics are superb especially with the way it started off “It’s like forgetting the words to your favourite song”. It was then onto another cut from the current LP and this song being Ballad Of A Politician. This tune was played at a steady pace and had lyrics which made you picture the story in your head.

 “For this song, next magic trick. I’m going to invite Jack Dishel of Only Son to come up on stage” Regina said before she was joined by her husband. Spektor was off the piano for this one while Dishel was playing an acoustic guitar. Call Them Brothers was a stripped back song and both Jack and Regina’s vocals gelled together perfectly which resulted in something enchanting. “So in this amazing theatre they have real pianos in the dressing rooms. I’m going to go back to Russia for the first time since being a little kid. I’m very excited, on this tour it’s going to happen. I tried to practise one of my Russian 2 songs that I know in Russian. They’re both covers. I don’t know how to write well in Russian yet. I know how to write a letter with misspellings. I don’t want you guys to think I can’t write” Spektor said before The Prayer of François Villon (Molitva) which she sang in her native language (she was born in Moscow). This song was written by Bulat Okudzhava and I found Regina’s own take on it to be rather mesmerising. The 2 Russian covers that Regina implied were The Prayer of François Villon (Molitva) and Old Jacket (both written by Bulat Okudzhava) which was released as a 7” for Record Store Day.

“How’s that for a smooth transition. I guess this is the 1 of 3 moments in the show where I’m not shunning you” Regina said when she moved over to the keyboard. Dance Anthem Of The 80’s was the song. This steady paced song was rather upbeat and was infectious as well. “I’m surrounded by love. That’s really nice. Who knew that?” Spektor said after people were shouting out their love for Regina. It was then onto Firewood and this being another highlight from What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. This song was a beautiful slow pace ballad where Regina mentions that the piano is not firewood yet. Better which appeared on Begin To Hope got a lot of cheers. This beautiful folk tune had slushy lyrics which were delivered sublimely. “Is everyone OK over there? There’s some commotion. Is anyone sick or something? Are you guys all OK?” Regina said before introducing the sold out RAH to her fantastic band. Why Regina was asking if everyone OK was because there was a girl sitting down in front of the barriers being given water by security. Aside from all that it was then onto Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas). This billingual tune was extremely quirky and upbeat. Its lyrics were amazing and here is a fact for you this song actually appeared on Spektor’s 2nd self released LP Songs. Oh Marcello was next and this was very quirky and the verses were played at a fast pace. It was then onto Open which was yet another fantastic song which featured on the new EP. There was the sense of creepiness throughout this song. Open was written when Regina was still living with her parents during 2003 and 2004. “Thank you so much for coming here tonight” Spektor said before concluding with the jolly song The Party. This tune which included the line “you taste like birthday, you look like new year” and she ended the song by putting her lips together to create a horn sound. If the whole venue was seated Regina would of easily got a standing ovation. Instead the whole venue erupted with applause until she made her re emergence onto the stage. “That sounded amazing” Spektor said the moment she was back on stage. It was then onto the crowd pleasing Us. I found this song to be rather hypnotic and it had infectious lyrics you just want to sing along to. It was then onto the quirky Fidelity which was played immediately after. This tune was catchy and had brilliant lyrics. This was the song that made me listen to Regina all those years ago. I’m surprised it never broke into the top 40 as it is a brilliant tune. When she keeps singing Better during Fidelity there is a slight English accent. “Thank you so so much. It’s just been such a pleasure to play for you” Spektor said before getting up to sing the furious paced Hotel Song. This upbeat song had infectious lyrics and this tune was over before it began. There was one song that everyone expected to hear and this was Samson. Samson ended what was a phenomenal night. This tune was a powerful, whimsical, slow paced song with luscious soothing lyrics. Once over I then left the Royal Albert Hall with a smile on my face after having witnessed something truly magical.

SET LIST

Ain’t No Cover
The Calculator
Small Town Moon
Blue Lips
Patron Saint
How
All The Rowboats
Laughing With
Sailor Song
Eet
Ballad Of A Politician
Call Them Brothers
The Prayer of François Villon (Molitva)
Dance Anthem Of The 80s
Firewood
Better
Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Oh Marcello
Open
The Party

ENCORE

Us
Fidelity
Hotel Song
Samson

OVERALL: This was one spellbinding night listening to music which made me feel happy inside. Regina is like a fine wine, you have to fully appreciate it because you don’t know when she will next come to the UK. Once any dates in the capital are announced I would get my ticket straight away because Regina Spektor is one phenomenal artist. This evening her new LP What We Saw From The Cheap Seats was performed in its entirety and all of those songs were crackers.

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