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Pop Montreal 2006

Regina Spektor & Only Son at Le National

Posted by Scott / October 9, 2006

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The finest solo artists I’ve seen live, or rather, the finest solo performances I’ve seen, share a common trait. Whether Elliott Smith, Howe Gelb, Andrew Bird, or a handful of other truly mind blowing solo sets I’ve been fortunate enough to see over the years, each artist has, in their own way, displayed the ability to completely control the room.

So too with Regina Spektor.

A ridiculous mix-up with set times had me arriving at Le National immediately after Only Son finished their set. I heard the final notes fading and that’s all, so I am in no position to comment on their performance. I can offer my apologies to the band and their fans and not much else. Instead, I waited with the rest of a full-ish house for Regina Spektor, and judging by the number of people who streamed in after I did, she was unquestionably the main attraction of the evening.

reginaspektor-small.jpgLe National is a converted theatre, spacious and very handsome with a mezzanine and sloped floor, yet there was still an impassably thick knot of fans bunched down front (see photo above by way of example). The crowd was mixed, young and old, men and women, all equipped with cell phones and blackberries.

After a not insignificant wait, Spektor took the stage in a dress reminiscent of Snow White and met an overwhelmingly warm reception. She began the set a cappella (the rawest move a solo performer can make), and then moved on to play piano and sing, only being joined by a full band (guitar/keys, bass and drums) after about 10 songs otherwise unaccompanied.

Spektor boasts some refined talents: she’s stretched and pulled an unconventional voice, unusual piano phrasing and idiosyncratic lyrics into a cohesive, unique sound. She could read the back of a cereal box and you’d immediately recognize the delivery. Over the course of an hour-and-a-bit she pulled the audience through the Spektrometer, weaving stories of things loved once and lost, things loved once and then regretted, and things never loved yet always wanted.

On album I sometimes grow weary of Spektor repeating lines 8 or more times in a row, but after seeing her live I understand why she does it. While recorded music freezes a particular performance forever, in playing live Spektor is given the chance to switch things up, stretching some lines out, feigning accents in others, adding trills and variations that keep the songs fresh. She did this with liberty and the audience responded ardently to the changes.

I counted 5 marriage proposals from an audience clearly well versed in Spektor’s back catalogue. Spektor herself seemed a little taken aback by the enthusiastic response and I would suspect that while this may be her first performance in Montreal, she will return for others.

Discussion

10 Comments

J Mac / October 9, 2006 at 06:18 pm
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Awesome review. I'm really looking forward to her reading-the-cereal-box record.
scott / October 10, 2006 at 10:45 am
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Hey, fanx. The cereal box record comes with a guest appearance by Count Chocula. Sweet!
Micheal / February 4, 2015 at 03:38 pm
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One of the things I dlikise about Pandora is that it eats up so much RAM. I could start running it and it's fine, but once it goes to the next song, the RAM gets eaten up. I end up having to restore and maximize the window to bring it down. But it's very nice. And once in a while, they bring out some stuff that aren't anything related to what the genre was so I skip it and then it gets to the message that they can only allow me to skip a certain number of songs per hour.But overall, it's great. Just wished it ate up less RAM though. I do own an ancient laptop Dell Inspirion 8100 with 512MB RAM but the fans are roaring.
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