Regina Spektor: Liverpool Empire Theatre

Regina Specktor

Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor took to the Liverpool Empire Theatre, Getintothis’ Matthew Wood recounts what he saw from the cheap seats.

Regina Spektor’s shimmering black grand piano lit under spotlight before us as she takes to the stage of Liverpool Empire Theatre.

Sat high above the stage with optional binoculars in the back of the seats in front, it’s a welcome change to the usual gig haunt. It’s a peculiar atmosphere as the crowd shuffle to their seats, some geared up for a night of sing-a-long fun, hollering her name while others sit patiently.

Spektor opens with punchy favourite Folding Chair, simple and uplifting and matching her beaming smile that could light up the room alone. ‘We love you Regina!’ yells a crowd member and her on stage persona is as likeable and as quirky as her tracks. Her style of storytelling is captivating and fluid like a moreish narrative, binding both the familiar reality of scented soaps and smokers on the streets while reminding us of our futility with existential musings.

Her performance appears effortless, her typical joyous droplets of piano notes that have served her so well over the years join her unique vocal as she slides gracefully between notes. There’s moments of the more experimental in her set and it’s just what we need, some theatre! Tornadoland strikes us with dark, sharp plugs of cello and ends with a bluesy-folk outro.

The three fellow band members on drums, cello and extra keys depart for a solo session and some ‘deep thoughts with Regina‘ as she recounts her trip to the Anglican Cathedral. ‘We have to do so much… ‘i’ve been so bummed out politically‘ she remarks, trying to keep the hope alive. The fantastic Apres Moi follows, a sinister, monstrous force in both English and Russian in which her vocal stands proud like a hard-faced statue, unmoving and polished, and if only we all lived by her rule ‘you can’t break that which isn’t yours‘.

Spektor always strives for a message in her work, and her music conjures up so much for her listeners, she can transport you to the hard times of war, to the rough days of sickness, she can leave you rejoicing in the rain and urge you to ‘shake what your mama gave you‘ and that’s just in one verse; it’s a fine display of songwriting quite unlike others.

What’s more is she’s truly humbled to be in Liverpool; ‘you know The Beatles played here right?’ she jokes and with every song and every comment she wins over her audience. Saying that, her choice of Beatles cover was a strange one, opting for While My Guitar Gently Weeps, sans guitar… All in all it’s a neat rendition that sees Spektor roam free from her keys and strut her stuff in her most Beatlesesque boots that she wore specially for the night. Instead the cellist shred out a screechy solo that just about does the trick.

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Lucky for us her less fresh material still leads the set and she sails through tracks from Begin To Hope (2006) and Far (2009) including guitar number, That Time and Dance Anthem of The 80’s. Her quirky stage presence matches the flourishes and characteristics of her performance; child-like clap alongs, beat boxing and her range of vocal styles that she glides through.

Shadows spike behind the band like the crown of the Statue of Liberty as the set takes another sinister turn with Small Bill$ and You’ve Got Time of Orange Is The New Black fame; she struts and strides again, hissing and growling between pounding timpani.

More crowd pleasers are to follow and the crowd meet her with a standing ovation as she ends the set finale, Samson, a real gem of a track that encapsulates all things Regina; the warming tones of piano and cello shone bright tonight and we were treated to fantastic performance, even from the cheap seats.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Waters