Regina Spektor: What I Saw From The Not-So Cheap Seats

Pianist's Detroit Show Full Of Charming Moments

By Chris Azzopardi

Don't you just wanna be Regina Spektor's friend and have tea parties and go vintage-clothes shopping with her? Spektor, who performed at The Fillmore in Detroit on Saturday, Oct. 13, has that effect on you: Her smile is big like a little girl on her birthday - and though it's hard to hear anything the soft-spoken songstress says when she speaks between songs (especially with these overzealous fans), you know whatever it is, it's charming.

You couldn't not be instantly endeared by her awkward side-to-side swaying when she walked out onto the stage to sing a cappella, tapping on her mic like a drum for "Ain't No Cover." Bridging the gap between Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan, Spektor's piano pop can be wildly out-there (I mean, she has an entire song about a wallet) or more universally tangible.

One of her biggest hits, "On the Radio," came early into the hour-and-40 minute set, and performed live it's a powerful thing to behold - thousands of people in a packed theater, singing to the gods about life and death, and everything in between. All was illuminated in that moment, even a beaming Spektor who also got really excited over a shoebox diorama a fan handed her. The boozy crowd, however, was a little too... illuminated. (Hey people, let's talk concert etiquette for a quick sec: Shut the fuck up.)

Spektor went back to her major-label debut "Soviet Kitsch" for "Ode to Divorce," a staple that established her quirkiness; subsequent albums like "Far" softened her a little too much for the hipsters. Some shady business started going down during "Dance Anthem of the 80s," stopping Spektor just seconds into the jive to call it out. Who knows what was going on, but Regina clearly elicits some strange behavior: I can honestly say I never expected to see crowd-diving at a Regina Spektor show.

"How" came just in time to tame the raucous. Though pretty straightforward, the ballad is a gem from her latest album, "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats," a marvelous work that merges all her idiosyncrasies. The other, "Firewood," was so pure-hearted and warm with its message of perseverance - a genius line: "the piano is not firewood yet" - that it felt like a big hug. The song, with its nostalgic desire for childhood innocence, really makes me miss my Rainbow Brite.

"All the Rowboats" had her mouthing drum thrashes, and "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)" exercised her foreign tongue to a chirpy beat that made me want to slip her in my pocket and take her home for cuddles. She closed with "The Party," appropriate not because the show sometimes seemed like one - but because of the words themselves. "You're like a big parade through town," she sang, brighter than the lights hovering above. "You leave such a mess but you're so fun." By then, she had the crowd wrapped around her finger, which I assume is cute, as well. "May I propose a little toast? For all the ones who hurt the most, for all the friends that we have lost." Drinks went up, and everyone cheered.

Foot-stomping drew Regina back out for a four-song encore that included "Fidelity" and "Samson," the one everybody was obviously looking forward to most. Yup, Regina: Bet you didn't know you'd be joined by the Detroit Chorus of Crazy Drunk People.

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