07 May 2007

ReSpekt, Or, Last Friday night

Friday night was one for the books (not the sound-rock duo, but actual books). Jack, Taylor, Ben and I all drove down to Denver for the Regina Spektor concert at the Paramount and then went to 'Spiderman 3' (Jack liked it, I really couldn't stand it). Jack and I dressed up for the occasion seeing as we were at a more upscale venue, or at least a place where nobody smoked during the concert. The stage was simple, with just Regina's piano, electric guitar, and also Only Son's acoustic guitar. The only accent to the whole show was a simple color lighting scheme, which was very appropriate. Playing before Ms. Spektor was Jack Dishel, who goes by the stage moniker of Only Son. He played about seven songs for his set, during all of which he sang and played his acoustic guitar. Most of the audience had come to see Regina, so everyone around us talked for at least his first three songs. After his opening song (I wish I could find a setlist), Jack and I both remarked that he would sound much better with a band. Before the next song, he whipped out his iPod and announced, “Seeing as how I don't have a band, I will be playing accompanied by my iPod. On the East coast, Only Son normally plays with a full band, but on tour due to extreme financial difficulties, Only Son tours with an iPod. If you don't like it, go blog about it.” (That part spoke to me, I looked over to Jack and said “I think I will.”) I really didn't mind the fact that he wasn't with his band, although I would really like to see Only Son in full. Dishel's voice is great, and I like to compare it to that of Ben Gibbard. Also similar to the work of Gibbard (technically, similar to the work of Jimmy Tamborello) was that Only Son used long droning background bass notes very much reminiscent to those of The Postal Service. His lyrics were personal and occasionally humorous, he definitely has the potential to become more popular. Assuming there is one, Only Son's next album looks to be pretty enjoyable.

When Regina Spektor walked out onto the stage, the audience around us erupted in hoots and cheers. She opened singing 'I Want to Sing', which is an a capella song: her voice was amazing. It was the perfect way for her to start. Without question her greatest asset as an artist is her powerful voice, which completely showed through during the whole of her performance. You would not be able to guess that that she has such a powerful voice given her shyness in interviews and while she talks, but when she sang her voice rang out and captivated the audience. After she finished 'I Want to Sing', Regina took her place on the piano and played 'Poor Little Rich Boy' which really showcased her raw talent. During that song she had to simultaneously keep beat on a wooden chair with one arm and play the piano with the other, a task that was unthinkable to me. She played a collection of other songs, the majority of which were from her recent album 'Begin to Hope'. Since we didn't know all of the songs, I'll just go over the highlights. She played a new song (I don't know its name) about how she took a statue of baby Jesus and kept it in her closet fearing what it would do if it grew up and had to feed it too, the song was pretty humorous and I think it will be on her next album. The only part of the show that I didn't understand was that for 'On the Radio', she pronounced the word 'radio' very differently from the way it is on the album. Oh well. She played 'That Time' on her guitar, which was superb. She has such skill that she can just walk around the stage and really play any instrument she wants. Since Ms. Spektor performed on her own rather than with the accompaniment on 'Begin to Hope', her most popular song 'Fidelity' was done with just her voice and the piano. I really liked how she performed it, but I think 'Fidelity' sounds best with strings. 'Summer in the City' was really entertaining and made everyone laugh. Up until that point I didn't feel too connected with the whole show, but her humor drew me in. Her performance of 'Apres Moi' was my favorite of the main part of the show. The skill with which she plays the piano really shows through, and for the song the stage lights were red. The whole effect was very dramatic. She followed that with 'The Ghost of Corporate Future' as her last song before the encore, which was probably her best performance for the night: the song isn't my favorite but the emotion with which she played it was wonderful.

For the encore she sang 'Hotel Song' with Only Son doing beatbox, which was really fun. Performances like that are why concerts are great. We were worried the she wasn't going to play 'Samson' which I think is her best song, but of course it was the one she ended on. The whole concert was very fun and seemed personal, although we were almost at the back of the theatre. I think Jack said it best: “I think I would compare Regina Spektor to Norah Jones in the same way that I would compare Ben Folds to Coldplay. They both are too personal with their lyrics to become popular adult-contemporary acts. They just put too much of themselves into their work for that.”


Cynthia said...

Great review! Just one thing, Baby Jesus isn't a new song. She's been playing it on shows for a couple of years now. It's a pretty controversial song, not everyone sees the humour in it, some people find it offensive. That's why I don't think she has recorded it yet and I'm not sure she will anytime soon. I surely hope she does, though. :)

Beth said...

I too HEART big time Regina. I've blogged about her plenty and would have loved to go to her show!

Can you contact me via email. I wanted to ask you something!

looking forward to some more great posts!

benjammin412 said...

Let's be thorough here, Ian. She also played Field Below, and Us in the encore. Best encore ever.

Anonymous said...

Did she sing On the Radio with a New York/Yiddish accent? I read somewhere she likes to inject her beloved New York into a lot of her songs. I love Regina Spektor!