Review: Regina Spektor, Arts Centre

Raphael Solarsh

Up in the quirky clouds, an ethereal presence and voice from a higher plane, still as remarkable as ever.
Review: Regina Spektor, Arts Centre

Regina Spektor at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Photo by Mark Gambino.

'I can feel the earth moving. I mean I know it’s moving but I can feel it,' she said (more or less). This is normally the kind of thing that leads me to sigh, roll my eyes and go find someone else to talk to. It’s the kind of affected pseudo profundity that makes a certain kind of person intolerable. Next is usually something about vaccines. But this is not everyone. There are the rare few who are just pure and authentic version of their wonderfully weird selves, naivety without a filter, brutal honesty tied up with a light blue bow. Now approaching forty, Regina Spektor is a seasoned performer but still brings an air of unguarded intimacy that seems to shrink a venue the size of Hamer Hall into a lounge-room sized bar.

'That’s not it,' she whispered when a crewmember brought out the wrong setlist. No hurry, she stretched her fingers and started to play. Her remarkable voice is still remarkable, clear and true without being stripped of character or the occasional rough edge. She doesn’t hold anything back but shows little strain and snaps in and out of songs with attention that focuses on one moment at a time. The wrong set list may as well have remained for all the concern Spektor had for sticking to it and requests shouted out from the audience managed to pencil themselves in among the planned repertoire.

Regina Spektor at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Photo by Mark Gambino.

The small-room vibe would be familiar to any fans of her fellow anti-folk contemporaries like husband Jack Dishel’s and Kimya Dawson’s Mouldy Peaches or Jeffery Lewis, and even though Spektor is no stranger to the likes of Glastonburry’s Pyramid stage she retains the authenticity that the modern folksters have preserved despite their wider success. They share an ability to say it as it is without getting angry, or at least aggressively angry, and just lay it all out without any unnecessary embellishment or ego.

Regina Spektor's Melbourne show was simple and intimate with an impressive final song list that would please the die-hards and the novices. A charming and ethereal performance with understated virtuosity and plenty of heart. And a bit of magic, mushrooming out of every crack.

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆

Regina Spektor: A Very Special Solo Performance

Regina Spektor

8 July  
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne

 
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at raphaelsolarsh.com and tweets @RS_IndiLit.