It's been a long time since Regina Spektor began her career in New York, playing her eccentric brand of classical piano and pop fusion to small crowds in the city's underground jazz bars. Listening back to the earliest recordings from Spektor you can vividly picture the smoke in the air, hushed whispers across the room and hipsters clicking their fingers in tune with the beat, yet the last time the American visited Ireland she played to a near maximum capacity 02 crowd, confirming her very mainstream status these days. The release of What We Saw From The Cheap Seats last year (her sixth studio album) continued in this vein, employing a full band and use of a mostly chart friendly approach with the regular touches of charm and wit that the NY native sprinkles throughout her discography.
Those who arrived with a slightly hesitant attitude toward Regina's growing ambitions will have found themselves reassured quickly as things kicked off with an acappella rendition of ''Ain't No Cover'', to the delight of the audience who welcomed her with rapturous applause and then deadly silence, much to the joy of the eternally innocent Spektor, who seemed genuinely humbled by her reception. Switching between newer and older tunes, fans seemed pleased with the likes of favourites ''On The Radio'' and ''Ode To Divorce'' (a rare moment of just Regina's voice and piano) while ''All The Rowboats'' confirmed fans were still paying attention to more recent material.
The striking thing about Spektor from the get go, and the reason she is such an acclaimed live act is her exceptional vocal talent, a feature which stands out even more so in a live, intimate setting than on record, an increasing rareity these days among live bands and singers. Adding to the stunning falsetto and pitch perfect delivery are the trademark sounds which Spektor loves to add throughout her work as everything from burping to beat boxing is employed much to the amusement of fans and Regina herself, whose thrilled reaction between each song is probably best conveyed by her joyful declaration that she wanted to ''eat the whole theatre'' halfway through the set.
Continuing on, the show is broken up at the halfway point for a duet with support act Only Son while crowd favourites such as ''Dance Anthem Of The 80's'', ''Ne Me Quitte Pas'' and ''Better'' get the audience in full flow. Going back to her roots, Spektor performs a traditional Russian song in her native language entitled ''The Prayer'' before ''Sailor Song'', taken from arguabley her finest effort Soviet Kitcsh is brought out for the entire building to sing.
The exit of Spektor and band from the stage brings the desired reaction from the enthusiastic crowd and she is welcomed back on for a final set of tracks that end the set perfectly, as classics ''Us'', ''Fidelity'', ''Hotel Song'' and finally ''Samson'' bring the night to an end. The faithful vocals of the audience for every word of Regina's last 4 songs confirm her special connection with the audience, as she declares ''you're gonna make me cry'' midway through an especially delicate rendition of ''Samson'' at the close. Best of all, the very last song see's the band exit stage, leaving just Spektor, the piano and her audience, just the way it should be, and it really doesn't feel fake when she tells us how difficult it will be to leave Ireland afterwards.
While some fans may question recent albums in contrast to more niche work such as 11:11 and Songs, tonight in the Olympia has proven that one thing has remained true: Regina Spektor is a damn fine live performer, and her home, just as it was in the beginning, remains on the stage.
Ain't No Cover
Small Town Moon
On The Radio
Ode To Divorce
All The Rowboats
Call Them Brothers (feat. Only Son)
You've Got Time (New)
Dance Anthem Of The 80's
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ballad Of A PoliticanThe Prayer
Review by Andrew Lambert
Photo (in body of article) by Aisling Lambert