Regina Spektor, the pianist, storyteller and anti-folk artist, played a haunting and breathtaking show at the Lunt-Fontanne theatre on Broadway. The second performance out of a five-night residency saw Spektor play from both new and old albums paired with choreography and towards the end, invited a special guest and friend to join her on stage.
Her first song, the prayer “Shalom Aleichem,” calmed and prepared the crowd for the show she was about to perform. Her speaking voice, shy and childlike, drifted out from the speakers. She expressed her excitement and nerves of performing on Broadway and continually whispered into the microphone “Broadway” before she rubbed her hands together and fiddled with her hair in anxiety. Her fingers and palms slammed into the ivory keys and her voice altered and transformed into her thunderous, self-possessed vocals as she performed “Folding Chair” and she imitated dolphin calls before transitioning into delicate harmonies.
The vocal control Spektor possesses is frighteningly superb. On “Us,” she oscillated between long periods of singing without taking a breath and breaking up lyrics into short, deliberate syllables with staccato piano playing to match. Her new song “Space Time Fairytale” started off with her rapidly listing off quirky non-sequiturs and then converting to a 2 and 4 jazz count, before ending with an ominous message of “You will burn” sung repeatedly as the graphics behind her were slowly engulfed in flames. Spektor also displayed her dance skills when she performed “Silly Eye Color Generalizations.” One of the dancers accompanied her onto an elevated platform where he tapped out the rhythm of the song and Spektor sung over it and made small gestures that corresponded with the lyrics.
One of the songs that received the most applause was “Dear Theodosia” when she brought out Hamilton creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda. She closed with “Samson” as fake snow fell from the ceiling and she spit it out saying it didn’t taste like the real thing in between her singing about the unrealized relationship between biblical characters Samson and Delilah.
A show with Regina Spektor is so much more than just a musician performing for a crowd. Somehow, she manages to infiltrate the heart of her listeners and provokes them into joining her on a journey flooded with bizarre images, anger, melancholy and euphoria. As soon as she sings the first note, one is hurtled back to being a brooding, misunderstood teenager or confronting the terror of being a young person leaving home for the first time and slowly submerging into the early stages of adulthood. Once one becomes settled on that nostalgic plane of existence, the show ends and the listener slowly drifts down and slips back into reality.
Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be to You)
On the Radio
Poor Little Rich Boy
Call Them Brothers
The Trapper and the Furrier
Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Space Time Fairytale
You’ve Got Time
It’s You I Like
Silly Eye-Color Generalizations
Photo Credit: Alexander Cabrera