“So that’s what you look like!” roared The Voice halfway through Regina Spektor’s set at Constitution Hall last night, when the Russian-by-birth, adorable-by-design songstress rose from her piano to play keyboards on “Dance Anthem of the 80s.”
Rude, yes, but also baffling. Spektor is a wellspring of quirk, and her Dadaesque lyrics offer metaphorical cover without limit. But the stripped-down show gave her no place to hide. She’d spent the 95-minute gig’s first half warbling from an unadorned stage, modestly accompanied by a two-man string section and a drummer on much of Far, her latest collection of confessionals and impish piano ballads. At the album’s nadir, she sounds like a dolphin, apparently on purpose. But in concert, her breathy, stretchy voice and dextrous playing sure sold new songs like “Folding Chair” and especially circa-2004 oldies like the sublime “Us,” their spell frequently punctuated by shrieks of “I love you, Regina!”
Such cultish adulation is inevitable: Though Spektor is 29, she has a blushing demeanor and childlike speaking voice that seem to stir a protective impulse in anyone inclined who to find those lyrics lousy with profundity, rather than plain lousy.
Either way, she’s a smart performer who knows when a little off-showing is warranted. For “Poor Little Rich Boy,” she played percussion with her right hand; piano with her left. Equally enchanting was the a cappella take of a song called “Silly Eye-Color Generalizations.” And those interrupting voices from the void, whether roaring or shrieking, didn’t rattle her one bit.
A version of this review appears today on Post Rock.