Regina Spektor Marvels at 'Magical Forest' Vibe of Greek Theatre: Concert Review
The New Yorker-via-Russia mixes old songs with plenty from her new album "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats."
"This is a magical forest filled with lots of really good people," Regina Spektor told a delighted audience Tuesday night at the Greek Theatre, nestled into Los Angeles' Griffith Park. "That's all you really need."
With a beaming white smile accented by defining red lipstick, the New York-by-way-of-Moscow songstress enchanted the largely female crowd with a two-hour set that consisted of many songs from her latest album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, as well as old favorites that were received with gleeful cheers. Despite the outdoor venue's significant size, the audience's warmth and Spektor's charisma made for an intimate night that saw four standing ovations thanks to a lengthy set and plenty of endearing onstage banter.
Shrieks roared toward Spektor as she took the stage, walking to a standing microphone led by a spotlight, and started into the a cappella "Ain't No Cover," tapping out the rhythm on the microphone while belting the blues. Here, like a promise, she readied the audience for a performance that showcased her singing, musicianship and charm, fulfilling absolutely. Her soaring voice flooded the amphitheater and then, comically, she croaked out the song's final line, "Till the day I die," like someone falling dead on the spot.
"Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be back here," Spektor told the crowd, whose response made it clear the feeling was mutual. Smiling, she sat down at her Steinway & Sons grand piano and began playing "The Calculation" from 2009's Far. Dressed in a flattering black dress patterned with a painted pastel print, Spektor's stage setup was sparse. Her band included just drums, cello, keyboards and bass, and the set design was appropriately minimal, dark and backlit with series of white squares hung from the ceiling giving the impression of paper pages floating overhead – and a spotlight always on Spektor.
Meanwhile, the audience -- which included Sarah Silverman and Ben Folds --cheered her through the set relentlessly with song requests and pleas of affection.
"I love you too," she whispered into the microphone before beginning "On the Radio."
Later, before "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)," she jokingly whined in response to those endless requests, "You guys, I was all professional and made a set list!"
While there were surely songs some might have missed -- she played 24 in all -- it's likely Spektor filled most requests during the show; and those that weren't played were probably forgiven. The night marked her family's 23-year anniversary of moving to the States from the Soviet Union, she said. And, later, Spektor's husband, Jack Dishel -- the former Moldy Peaches guitarist and current frontman of Only Son, who opened the night -- joined her onstage, playing guitar and singing their co-penned duet "Call Them Brothers."
"There was a tiny little bug that flew into a very dangerous situation, and I couldn't stop playing so I think I killed him," Spektor said after playing "Patron Saint." "F---, that can't be good. Bad karma. If I was a monk, I would have stopped playing -- but I'm just a New York City girl."
But all seemed right with the cosmos this night. Standing, swooning, swaying to the rhythm and singing along, the audience by the show's end had pleasantly melted in Spektor's appeal, showing full emotional gratitude through a four-song encore that ended with the absolute tenderness of "Samson" that moved at least a few to tears.
From the response, Spektor was moved to expletives.
"You're amazing! F---. Thank you so much, Los Angeles,” she said. “Wow, how is this even real?" She then walked to the front of the stage and took several curtseys, telling her adoring fans, like a dear friend, "Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other."
Ain't No Cover
On the Radio
Small Town Moon
Ode to Divorce
All the Rowboats
Call Them Brothers
Dance Anthem of the 80's
Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Ballad of a Politician