It is always a sign of a solid and creative back-catalogue when an obscure fan request is made at a gig, even if the performer in question tonight, Regina Spektor, does not play fiddle to it.
Spektor may now be a fully-fledged major label recording artist whose audience recently included Barack Obama, but tonight at Manchester Apollo, she showed that she still retains a good deal of the dorky quirks that made her Spektators fall for her first time around: from finger drumming her microphone (‘Ain’t No Cover’) to singing a song in her native Russian and donning an Italian accent about as convincing as Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (‘Oh Marcello’).
Based on this performance, ‘Regina 2012’ is not quite the punk pianist who beats a chair with a drumstick (‘Poor Little Rich Boy’). Nor is she that girl who sang about how ‘someone next door is fucking to one of my songs,’ which she first aired live at a time when most likely no one was.
Regina 2012 is however a female with an idiosyncratic vocal talent, poetic sensitivity and a classical proficiency which she showcases flawlessly with the help of her band of cello, drums and keys who accompany her piano on almost every song. The cello is most haunting on Soviet Kitsch’s ‘Ode To Divorce’ but the band are equally sprightly and transformative on numbers such as ‘On The Radio’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)’, an up-tempo reworking of the sparse version from ‘Songs’.
Regina’s voice has noticeably matured from breathy to a more powerful instrument on recent tours and her professionalism was dealt a bad hand when she announced after an hour that she had ‘broke a bone in her throat’ and apologetically left the stage to seek medical assistance. Twenty five minutes later, she returns all smiles and vows to carry on like ‘the footballers’, playing through the remaining songs from ‘…Cheap Seats’ and leaving a bit of room for big hitters ‘Fidelity’ and the spine-tingling ‘Samson’. Surprisingly, there’s no ‘Us’, but no doubt twiddly vocal gymnastics were not exactly what the Doctor ordered.
Despite her vocal setback (which was not apparent to those listening), ‘Reginasaurus’ continues to prove herself as a unique type of performer-songwriter and artist whose live show and stage presence never fails to be anything short of intriguing and charming… even if we saw it from the Cheap Seats.