Ask anyone to describe the experience of hearing a Regina Spektor song for the first time and I guarantee that one of those three words will pop up at some point.
I first heard Regina’s song ‘Fidelity’ playing in a clothes shop in New York back in 2006. I’m a sucker for a great pop song, but there was something utterly quirky about her voice that made me stop and listen [dammit, third paragraph and I’ve already used ‘quirky’]! I was instantly a fan. Seeing her live for the first time at Glastonbury 2009 was a terrific experience and I couldn’t wait to see her in a more intimate setting.
Earlier this year Regina released her latest album “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats”. I wouldn’t call our seats cheap…but this is what we saw/heard from our seats that night.
My girlfriend and I braved a downpour of biblical proportions to make it to the Manchester O2 Apollo on time, and as we arrived I saw something I’ve never seen before! People buying tour merchandise hoodies, t-shirts…and putting them straight on after getting out of their soaking wet clothes.
Following a support set from Only Son, Regina came onstage and performed “Ain’t No Cover” totally a capella. She sounded confident and the crowd welcomed her with open arms. Taking a seat at the piano she launched into the bouncy, fun track from her last album “The Calculation”.
Despite a strong back-catalogue of hits and live-only fan favourites, Regina performed a setlist heavily weighted towards her latest album. A few requests were thrown out from the crowd, but Regina shrugged bashfully at most of them…she admitted in an interview that she still doesn’t write her songs down:
“I try to be better now, at least about recording little things, because sometimes I still have things just disappear. You always think, ‘Oh, I’ll never forget that. That’s so obvious.’ And then, of course, you forget it.”
She was joined by Only Son for their duet “Call Them Brothers”.
Amongst the abundance of new material, Regina showcased some of her catchiest tracks, highlights being “On The Radio”, “Blue Lips”, and “Eat”.
Then, something quirky (for all the wrong reasons) happened.
After performing “Dance Anthem of the 80s”, Regina sat back down at her piano and was visibly uncomfortable – she mentioned that she felt as though she’d “snapped a bone in her neck” during the last song. Nonetheless, she carried on through “Better” and “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)”, before apologising and rushing offstage.
For 20mins the audience sat in the darkness, wondering whether she would appear again.
But like a trooper, Regina returned to the stage and, with all the confidence of a seasoned pro, finished the night in style with a selection of new tracks, including the irresistible “Oh Marcello” and her deeply moving waltz “Firewood”.
Finishing with “Samson”, Regina brought a close to a night of typical quirkiness, and showed her fans that, if nothing else, she’s a consummate professional.
We were gutted not to hear her perform ‘Us’; a beautiful track punctuated with pizzicato piano and strings…so here it is in all its glory: