cut/ Pianist Regina Spektor wooed fans with a 90-minute show Tuesday night at Ann ArborÕs Michigan Theater.
ÒItÕs a very complicated shirt, but it makes up for it in its shininess,Ó assured Regina Spektor of her sequined top — wide-eyed and smiley — in front of an overzealous sold-out audience Tuesday night at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.
She looked like a deflated disco ball, but it was all part of the Soviet-born SpektorÕs charm, meaning it wasnÕt so much a shortcoming as it was an accent to the shy pianistÕs offbeat personality. Just minutes into SpektorÕs enchanting, moving and solid 90-minute show, as she whispered ÒhelloÓ to a fawning mostly-college crowd, it was clear that she was probably the goody-good who sat in the front of the classroom, diligently jotting down notes while the cool kids used her as the in-between note passer. If thatÕs true, Spektor — with all her awkward, nerdy and quirky idiosyncrasies — has come a long way: To everyone there, she was cool. Way cool.
Hovering over the piano, she began with a pair of bouncy, beaming cuts from her pop-leaned latest, ÒFarÓ — the bulk of the setlist was culled from this mainstreamer album — before traipsing through her four-disc repertoire. Some of the newer, bubblier material mightÕve felt out of step with good oddities like ÒOde to DivorceÓ — though the kitschy keyboard-driven ÒDance Anthem of the ’80s,Ó with all its beat-boxing vocals seemed right at home — but everything about the show was pretty irresistible. A voice, backed by a three-piece band, that was as soft and quiet as a birdÕs feather floating to the ground, and then abrupt, belty and loud as it forced itself into your ears. The way she held the mic with two hands like a little kid tipping a cup of milk back into his or her mouth. And a stab at a country song she wrote called ÒLove, YouÕre a Whore,Ó a peppy, almost-classic country love song with a twist: The word Òwhore.Ó
ÒFolding Chair,Ó with its breezy, beach-chill vibe was a zippy gem, all the more animated with SpektorÕs mimed dolphin grunts, which drew clamorous crowd cheers. There were a lot of those, and not just the inevitable after-song ovation.
Just a few opening chords caused bursts of esteemed audience energy to tornado toward the stage, especially on songs off SpektorÕs heralded ÒBegin to Hope,Ó like ÒOn the RadioÓ and ÒThat Time,Ó which she played on the electric guitar. It kept Spektor grinning, occasionally reacting in silly outbursts of glee as she ÒwooÓ-ed right back. During the perfect five-song encore— which included her hit ÒFidelity,Ó and all its catchy vocal fluttering, and ÒUsÓ — she admitted all this smiling was making her ears hurt.
Her ears and our hearts, particularly during the first closing song, ÒSamsonÓ — an ode-to-longtime-love that still remains an achy, timeless tearjerker. She played it solo on the piano, under a swarming, dreamy starry-night lit stage. It was magical, poignant and a powerful reminder that when youÕre that talented, you can wear whatever stupid shirt you want. A-