Regina Spektor | Chicago Theatre | October 17, 2012
Photo: Ryan Bourque
Tucked behind a Steinway baby grand piano and flashing a bright smile, Regina Spektor seemed right at home onstage at the Chicago Theatre Wednesday night. The Russian-American singer/songwriter regaled the near-capacity audience with her particular brand of anti-folk. Clad in a black dress with green and red dots, black tights and bright red lipstick, she matched her impressive vocal range to restless piano melodies. Spektor was accompanied by drums, cello and keyboard.
The momentum of the set tended to sag during the slower ballads like “Firewood,” where lyrics like “You’ll miss every toy you ever owned” and “There’s still no cure for crying” fell flat. Up-tempo numbers like “Oh Marcello” and “Dance Anthem of the 80s” fared better, with Spektor beat-boxing and stealing whole lines from the Animals /Nina Simone. Her melodies are unusual and memorable, helping land her songs in dozens of movies, TV shows and ads. Her talent is undeniable, but her lyrics and stage presence can sometimes threaten death-by-cute.
The crowd frequently sang along and yelled declarations of love whenever possible. Spektor’s stage banter covered the band Scorpions and flattering haircuts. She gave a shout-out to a 91-year-old family friend in the audience, and before “Ballad of a Politician,” mentioned “your local hometown hero” Barack Obama. The encore featured some of her biggest hits. On “Us,” she described monuments to love: “They made a statue out of us.” By the time she broke out the sultry “Samson,” the audience had truly gotten an evening of whimsy and heartbreak.