Regina Spektor, Royal Albert Hall, London
Throughout her career, Regina Spektor has been dogged by people moaning that she's too 'kooky' and 'quirky' – but there's no pleasing some, and I'm afraid now I'm going to complain that she's not enough of either.
Or at least, her show in the grand old Albert Hall – where she's clearly totally psyched to be – didn't much reflect the spikier, fiercely inventive side of the Russian-American singer-songwriter's six-album output, or it's, yes, kookier, moments. Instead we got a lot of smoothed out and pumped up pop songs, Spektor belting out the vocals, hammering the piano, while big drum beats took it almost to eighties power balladry. Of course, such sweeping splendour suits this stage, which is maybe not the place for burping, hiccuping, beat-boxing clatter...
The adoring crowd doesn’t seem to mind a jot. “Turn round, I wanna see your face!” begs one man. Sitting perhaps two seats in front of him, I share his frustration – it's an unfortunate truth that a gig at a grand piano involves turning your back on vast swathes of audience. Spektor seems genuinely mortified - “trust me, I'm not shunning you” - and is one of the warmest performers you're likely to encounter (unless she was pulling faces about us the whole time; I've no way of knowing).
We do still hear an impressive range of her vocal talents tonight. Forget your traditional poppy 'ooh's; she warps any vowel sound going, be it repeated “eeeee”s on 'Eet' or the staccato “a-a-a”s of 'Dance Anthem of the 80's', the daffy yelpy accents of 'Oh Marcello' or the “she-eeeeee” stretched like toffee on 'Sailor Song'.
The latter also has her singing “Mary Anne's a bitch” with great relish, but mostly she plays nice, and it's a romantic set with sentimental strings. That said, her idiosyncratic lyrics are hardly Hallmark: “You taste like birthday/You look like New Years” she warbles on 'The Party', while the popular 'Us' reaches a crescendo on the lines “They made a statue of us/Our noses have begun to rust”. The evening is largely drawn from new album What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, but Spektor saves favourites from 2006's Begin to Hope for the encore, the sprightly 'Fidelity' and 'Hotel Song', and 'Samson', which showcases the beauty of her voice as she sends pure high notes into the rafters with ease.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 I like Corbyn, but let's face it: we don't need another white man at the head of a political party
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Trevor Noah, Edinburgh Fringe review: New Daily Show host warms up in inspired style
X Factor 2015: Ratings drop almost 2 million compared to last year's launch show
VMAs 2015: Kanye West runs for president, Nicki Minaj calls out Miley Cyrus and the list of winners in full
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up