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REGINA SPEKTOR

★★★★

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA... HOUSE

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By Charlie David Page
11th December 2012
A petite woman walks onto a dimly lit stage, to deafening applause and cheers usually reserved for the finale of a show. She salutes to the audience and smiles outwardly. When she bends over the front rows to sing 'Ain't No Cover', capturing a stillness in the audience without any instrument besides her voice, this could only be one person - the incomparable Regina Spektor.

At her second Sydney show (yet the first to go on sale and sell out), there was no sign on the stellar musician slowing down - quite the opposite, in fact, with an uptempo version of 'The Calculation'; Regina comfortable behind her piano, fingers flying over keys, and a uproarious drum kit backing her up. She kicks off another audience favourite with 'On The Radio', setting the crowd clapping along with the song.

Things start off gently but end with Regina stamping along to 'Small Town Moon'. 'Ode To Divorce', taken from the album 'Soviet Kitsch', sees Regina showing off her classical piano skills, while 'Patron Saint' shows off her vocal talent, her voice rising to new heights.

Taking on a personal favourite from the new album, Regina set tears aflow and couples grabbing each other's hands with 'How'. As she sat, poised over the piano and framed with slashes of blue light and billows of smoke, the raw emotion of her words echoed throughout the Opera House Concert Hall.

REGINA SPEKTOR - DON'T LEAVE ME (NE ME QUITTE PAS)

'All The Rowboats' sees beams of red luminescence scan over the audience like searchlights - this song is not a performance, but an experience. In contrast, 'Blue Lips' is far more focused on Regina, watching her fingers flow over the piano like water, and the cello making the song more immediate and dire.

The band then leaves Regina on stage, which seems like a good time for one audience member to call out, "I love you Regina!" Another cries out, "I love you more!" In her quiet way, she chants, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" She then introduces Jack Dishel from Only Son (her husband - who also opened for her) for 'Call Them Brothers', a song they wrote together, performed with a spine-tingling harmony. Going solo, she plays her version of one of her favourites, 'The Prayer of François Villon'.

With the band returning to the stage, Regina positions herself at keyboard for 'Dance Anthem of the 80s'. While it starts with an innocent simplicity, Spektor once again sends shivers down spines when she professes, "It's been a long time since before I've been touched, now I'm getting touched all the time".

Returning to the comfort of her piano, Regina belts out 'Better' - a rockier version heavy with drums. In perhaps the closest rendition to the album, 'Ne Quitte Pas' is joyous, bubbly and 3 minutes of divine fun.

Firewood is a quiet piano number, showing off a more delicate side of Regina, while 'Ballad of a Politician' has the live layering of her vocals, for an execrable effect.

As she sat, poised over the piano and framed with slashes of blue light and billows of smoke, the raw emotion of her words echoed throughout the Opera House Concert Hall.

'Sailor Song' brings a delicate piano with a rollicking rock chorus, while 'Folding Chair' and 'Oh Marcello' are light-hearted fun. She then launches into the uplifting piano-driven epic, 'Open', bringing an operatic quality to the song. Regina finishes off the celebration with 'The Party', before leaving the stage.

The rapturous applause was silenced by a disembodied voice: "I am the ghost of the Sydney Opera House. Regina's not coming back!" But it didn't take much to convince her to - in fact, it seems she had made her way up to the Concert Hall grand organ for a rendition of 'The Sword and the Pen' - halfway through the song remarking, "Holy shit, I'm playing an organ!"

Upon returning to the stage, Regina revealed that it was a first for her: "I've never played an organ before... It's fucking hard, especially the feet!" Regardless of the fact, the audience is ecstatic.

She then launches into 'Us', as rambunctious as ever. The cheers from the crowd are only topped when the first notes of the next song reveal themselves to be 'Fidelity'. Spektor is sincere in her emotion, and the accompanying cello perfectly complements to her beautiful vocals. This is followed by 'Hotel Song', where he shows off her beatbox skills.

Regina finishes off the evening on her own, performing a solo version of 'Samson', soft and solitary at the piano, with a standing ovation from the audience.

The evening revealed a diverse and plentiful choice of songs - the new album wasn't favoured over any others, and was nicely spread between the 25-odd songs. Regina Spektor's live performance is more vivid and vociferous than any album could ever capture - to watch this small woman produce such phenomenal sounds is a superb experience.

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FAST FACTS
ARTIST: Regina Spektor
BEGAN: 1999
FROM: Moscow/new York
SOUND: Indie Folk/pop
WEBSITE: Www.reginaspektor.com
FACEBOOK: reginaspektor
TWITTER: @respektor
INSTAGRAM: @reginaspektor
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