It’s very, very easy to fall for Regina Spektor. She’s easily one of the most charming and likeable singer/songwriter you’ll find and has more than enough eccentricity and individuality to strip every nation’s charts of whiny tripe within seconds. Couple that with a smile so fantastically sweet that you’ll find yourself hard pressed not to blush, she makes for a particularly enticing prospect both live and on record. Live In London acts as most CD+DVD packages do, offering a stop-gap between albums, a career retrospective, a fan’s dream setlist and an option for the uninitiated to jump on board. Sure, it’s a bit sparse on the special features but thanks to a 20 song + setlist, you’ll hardly feel like you’ve been short changed.
It’s immediately worth pointing out that Regina works best when backed up by a string quartet and a drummer, not by a bunch of dudes playing with her like a traditional band, so thank holy hell that she’s accompanied by the former because their involvement helps no end. Not that Regina isn’t comfortable sitting by herself with just her piano, but her music has developed to the extent that it requires this sort of backing to truly work. And work, it does. The evening’s more upbeat numbers (The Calculation, Folding Chair) feel that more vibrant as a result, and in the case of material culled from the somewhat weak Begin To Hope, actually helps to breathe new life into songs like Fidelity that never sat quite right before.
As a whole, the concert looks great; simplified musical joy at it’s best. No frills, just performers and songs. Regina keeps stage-chat to a minimum, save for occasional, heartfelt thank yous to a particularly loving crowd. It might not seem like much, but she seems unable to stop beaming inbetween each song and with each burst of applause. It’s great to see her enjoying herself, but the real highlights are the more tender moments. Eet, Ode To Divorce and Us sound more beautiful and moving than they ever have, with the former benefitting marvelously from the string quartet. Sure, it’s left to Us to steal the show, but it’s the best song she’ll ever write, so why try and fight it’s haunting jauntiness?
Regina Spektor learnt how to write great songs a long time ago, and it feels like any air of scepticism about her as a live performer is finally disappearing. This little package will help no end, and gives us another excuse to do a bit of swooning over one of today’s most engaging singer/songwriters.