Concert Review: Regina Spektor at The Tabernacle in Atlanta

It’s been a shade over three years since Regina Spektor was last in Atlanta promoting her album Far, and needless to say, her Atlanta fan base has been clamoring loudly for a sprinkle of that sonic goodness that only she can deliver. They turned out in force to see their favorite piano-flavored singer-songwriter, easily selling out the 2600-seat Tabernacle. Isn’t it about time Ms. Spektor graduated to the Fox Theatre?

The evening of music started with Jack Dishel. Dishel is the lead guitarist for the Moldy Peaches and is currently touring under the moniker Only Son. The Regina faithful will know Dishel better as Spektor’s newly married husband. Going into the show, I hadn’t made this connection and was slightly surprised by the overly enthusiastic response the opener received. Not that his work didn’t merit it, but the response was a bit amplified from what you would normally see from a typical opening act. Dishel eschewed the band to deliver his voice unhindered. He had a interesting sound, seeming to harken back to Elliott Smith at times. He’d return to the stage later in the evening to give Regina an assist in their duet, “Call Them Brothers.”

As welcoming as the crowd was to Spektor’s beau, it was clear there was only one person they were here to see. They packed ever closer on the general admission floor and the random empty seats in the balcony magically filled in. Suddenly the talking ceased, cell phones fell silent, and a hush enveloped the audience as Regina set the mood of the evening with the a capella “Ain’t No Cover.” It wasn’t long before her backing band was ushered in to help her out with “The Calculation.”

The background of the stage created a magical effect. A rain of dangling paper descended from the rafters of the old church as a multicolored adventure of spotlights danced off their surface. It was a bit like the notes from Regina’s piano were constantly showering the stage.

The evening’s set list sampled across her rich catalog of albums, but leaned heavily on the new material from her latest release What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, as she nearly played the album cover-to-cover. She found her playful side in “Don’t Leave Me” before unearthing her guttural growl on “Open.” She shone the spotlight on her quiet brilliance in “Firewood.”

The thing that makes Regina fascinating is that she is a multifaceted artist. You turn the cube of her talent and you keep seeing new perspectives that the last song hadn’t yet hinted at. Some may try to stick her in the same box as piano-driven female artists like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, yet its not a good fit. Regina Spektor is a unique voice that bleeds outside of these simple categories.

Watching her perform was seeing an artist highly focused on her craft. At times, it was almost like we were voyeurs witnessing this illicit affair she was having with her piano. It was a tad bit naughty, somewhat carnal, yet always completely reveling.

While Spektor’s rabid fan base gladly contributed in sing-a-longs and offered hardy applause after each number, they waited until the encore to become truly unhinged. She kicked things off by reached back to Soviet Kitch to serve up fan favorite “Us.” She wrapped the evening with a trio of tracks drawn from Begin to Hope. “Fidelity” got everyone playing vocal hopscotch following the ha-ha-heart. “Samson” brought the house down, as screams for the quiet love song had been echoing through the Tabernacle since the evening began, and the throngs of fans sang soft accompaniment to stunning affect. While the recorded version remains as one of the best crafted love songs in recent memory, it takes on a new dimension of intimacy live. If it doesn’t give you chills when she utters “you were my sweetest downfall,” I’m sorry, but there is something wrong with you.

What can you really say to sum up Regina? Seeing her play is always a pleasure. She is easily one of the most talented singer-songwriters performing in music today. Her set spanned close to two-hours so you can’t say she held back — anything. Let’s just hope we can entice her back to our fair city before another three years slip by.

Regina Spektor Tabernacle Atlanta Setlist : November 10, 2012
Ain’t No Cover
The Calculation
On the Radio
Small Town Moon
Patron Saint
All the Rowboats
Blue Lips
Call Them Brothers (w/ Only Son)
The Prayer of Francios Villon
Dance Anthem of the 80s
Don’t Leave Me (No Me Quitte Pas)
Oh Marcello
Ballad of a Politician
Sailor Song
Folding Chair
The Party

Hotel Song

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