At 17, I waited for hours on end to be front-row-center for my favorite new songstress Regina Spektor at Austin City Limits. The festival experience was grueling yet thrilling, and as the show came to end, all I could think was, “That was totally worth it.”
So at her recent show, as she started to sing, a wave of nostalgia came over me. The venue for this performance, the United Palace Theater, was quite grandiose and seemingly fit for an opera. With its broad stage and clear, luminous sound, it made the perfect location for a such a relaxed, almost-cinematic experience. Her opening song, “Ain’t No Cover,” had a strong, soulful quality and my first thought was, “Why isn’t this girl compared to Amy Winehouse or Adele more? She’s just as soulful.” Eventually I realized it makes no sense to compare her to those singers, especially since she’s done her own thing for so long. In reality, she’s a charming musical mish-mash and that’s what makes her amazing (or “quirky” as we’re fond of labeling those girls lately). At various points in the show, Spektor crooned, rapped, burped, cussed, beatboxed, and even added an Italian accent to the mix. She’s got a classical elegance to her voice, but an interesting edge to her songs.
Her song list varied from “On the Radio” and “Samson” to “Laughing With” and “Dance Anthem of the 80’s.” Her new songs seem stronger than even her classic tunes–I never once wished she’d “play more of the old stuff.” Personal highlights included her updated rendition of “Better” and encore of “Us,” both such lovely and melodic songs.
It’s been seven years since I last saw her play, but after all this waiting, I have to say: it was worth it.
[Top Two Photos by Jon Klemm]