NYC–based, Russian-born Regina Spektor has been compared to Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Bjork, and PJ Harvey. Like them, she’s an accomplished female musician who knows her craft and her audience. After two albums, Soviet Kitsch and Begin to Hope, her cult following is expanding, much like these other songstresses.
But the differences between her and the others were clear during the show last night at the Varsity. Her turns on piano are at once jazzy, classical, and rocking, and her style possessed me to feel like skipping along with the plinkier notes, even when singing about overdoses. Absent are diva-like glissandos—her voice pirouettes along instead, note by note. She giggles at herself. She bangs a drumstick with one hand and plays piano with the other, while singing/shouting “You don’t love your girlfriend! You don’t love your girlfriend!”
She sings a song about drinking soap and then vomiting, but it’s the most charming vomiting noise I’ve ever heard. She sings about the dollar-store employees, who sell plastic Jesus statues and spit on the graves of nonbelievers—but then buys one. And a first-aid kit. Just in case. Then came the encore, with songs that were touching, loving, and fun, reaching a kind of crescendo on Begin to Hope’s “Samson.”
She was a siren in every sense—sexy, self-assured, and with a voice as pure and clean as ice. She pulled the audience in with her girly, appealing, serious music. One hell of a show.