concert reviews

Regina Spektor at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Sunday 16 April 2006

Russian-born New Yorker Regina Spektor could easily be compared to Tori Amos and Cat Power based on her piano-playing prowess alone. But as a singer she has much more in common with Bjork than most of her ivory-tickling counterparts.

Sunday night at the 9:30 club, Spektor spent most of her 75-minute set behind her keyboard. She did more than just croon like a lounge singer, though. She gurgled, sputtered and grunted to add percussion to her songs. On "Poor Little Rich Boy," her passion bordered on violence as she played keyboard with one hand and pounded a wooden chair with a stick with the other. She even switched to guitar on two songs, playing it more like a bass on "That Time" by emphasizing a long string of low, repetitive notes rather than strumming typical guitar chords.

The audience recognized the first few bars of Spektor's older songs with thunderous applause. But she also debuted a number of tracks from her upcoming album "Begin to Hope:" the bouncy, catchy "Better"; "20 Years of Snow," which paired her wailing with rolling keyboard lines; and "Fidelity," which stood out with its bright, delicate melody.

Even with such a heavy emphasis on new songs, Spektor obviously commanded the audience's attention. During the pensive "Summer in the City," she elicited a flurry of giggles with her declaration, "Summer in the city is cleavage, cleavage, cleavage."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 18 April 2006; Page C07
.: Selected discography: Begin To Hope (Regina Spektor, 2006); Live at Bull Moose (Regina Spektor, 2005); Soviet Kitsch (Regina Spektor, 2004).