March 18, 2017
Pretty piano playing singer-songwriter types come a dime a dozen in the music industry, but they often fall quickly into the coffee house background music category. Appearing often in the zenith moments of romantic comedies and teenage dramas, these songs are always ones you kind of know. On a rainy St. Patrick’s Day, Regina Spektor played to a sold-out Fillmore crowd. It was an unusually diverse mix of wide-ranging age groups and backgrounds. An older man in a leather “Indiana Jones” style hat stood next to a 5’3″ young blonde wearing an oversize purple and green tie-dye t-shirt. Parents whose children were now old enough to be out of the house roamed the edges of the crowd. Of course the college girls were there, some of them with their boyfriends. Groups of middle-aged women, mothers and daughters, young married girls on lady dates with other young married girls. Does everyone love Regina Spektor? What makes her different from the other ivory key pushers and vocal crooners?
Born in Moscow, Russia in early 1980, Regina began classic piano lessons at the age of six. Both of her parents were musically gifted and very serious about her education of the instrument. Unfortunately her lessons would be interrupted when the Spektor family was forced to leave Moscow in 1989. Regina was just nine and a half when faced with leaving her piano due to discrimination issues within the country. Landing in the Bronx as a Jewish refugee, Regina found her place again under the protection of her music. Without the comfort of her instrument she would “play” on hard surfaces and tabletops until she found a piano in the basement of her synagogue. She began composing and writing her own lyrics and shaping her form as an artist.
Under the bright Fillmore lights, Spektor sat on her piano bench and told the crowd that St. Patrick’s Day was a very special day. It was the anniversary of her being sworn in as a United States citizen. An eager audience cheered as she raised her timid voice to say, “I am forever grateful and I believe in open doors.” Cleverly playing “Ballad of a Politician” to close the discussion, everyone stood as stillness fell over the faces of fans, witnessing a poignant moment in a time of national uncertainty.
She played favorites like “Grand Hotel,” “Sampson,” and “Fidelity.” Playful beats against an unwavering voice with classic symphonic sounds mixed in between; a harmonious marriage of piano and cello. People stood so still, as if listening to a whimsical fairy tale read by their nanny before bedtime. Then a sea of lips singing the verses to another song with memorized inflections and breathing as if the words belonged to them. Pushing back at the keys as if she was almost attached, the black reflecting lacquer of the piano showed a twin image that Regina seemed to be playing with.
Amidst the theatrical allure of the show, Regina helped a guy named Nicholas ask his girlfriend Kristen to marry him. She played “Us” for them and the house sang along with the newly engaged couple. It was lovely.
What makes Regina Spektor so special? Her sincerity? Her nakedness? Lots of girls play piano and sing songs that have been written by other talented people. They have gold and platinum albums like Regina Spektor and find fame and attention from the weak-minded love-seeking individuals who yearn for wholesome sounds in an ever-evolving musical landscape. But there is a sense of gratitude, hope and newness in Regina’s voice and music. She writes and sings words that people seem to adopt as their own. Words they believe because of her delivery, ingenuity, talent, and compassion. What makes Regina Spektor different? She’s just authentic.
Check out the remaining tour dates for Regina Spektor in 2017.