Liverpool Empire, 7 August 2017
Perhaps to make up for the disappointment of Hope and Glory – the Liverpool festival marred by, and eventually cancelled due to, poor planning, over ticketing and mismanagement – the city was graced with the brilliant Regina Spektor who tore up the Liverpool Empire with musical energy and charisma.
Regina Spektor has been in the game for a while, rising to fame in the early 2000s as a fresh, creative songstress and gifted pianist with a quirky edge that brought a new-found youthfulness to the scene. After taking a break from music to enjoy life and have a little baby Spektor, Regina returned in 2016 with new material in the form of album Remember Us To Life, her first album since 2012’s What We Saw From The Cheap Seats.
Playing a mixture of new songs and fan favourites, Spektor commanded the stage on her grand piano under spotlight whilst backed by her drummer, double bass and backup keyboardist. A remarkable backdrop lightshow ensued behind, altering in colour, intensity and direction at each song change to bring a dynamic, dramatic effect to the performance.
Spektor kept the mood light and playful with funny interactions, anecdotes and stories between songs. She got up to play electric guitar for some of her more classic, quirky tracks, such as That Time, and took to the keyboard for Dance Anthem of the 80s to balance out her more classical compositions like Better and Us.
To make the night extra special, and to show her love for Liverpool and all things Beatles (Spektor has admitted she was singing The Beatles’ music before she even learnt English properly), Spektor played a soulful rendition of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a song which understandably had the audience cheering louder still.
Spektor played an impressive 26 songs in total, including Ballad of a Politician from her 2012 album. Such a song feels more apt than ever when juxtaposed with modern America and Trump. Spektor played from her latest album; Grand Hotel, Small Bill$ and The Light stuck out as her more impressive pieces heard live, while You’ve Got Time (her piece written for globally-recognised TV show Orange Is The New Black) also made a well-received appearance.
Later followed the poignant Blue Lips, from 2009’s Far, and Us and Sailor Song, both from 2004’s Soviet Kitsch – the now-famous line “Cos Mary Ann’s a bitch” had everyone singing along and laughing out loud. Towards the end, Spektor gave an emotional and powerful performance of Apres Moi before belting out her classic Better.
Tonight’s performance showed that Regina Spektor’s music has aged well. As relevant as ever, her songs speak about universal issues that persist in our world, those of the individual, our culture and global society.
Artist: Regina Spektor