Friday, November 19, 2010

Regina Spektor: "Live In London" (album review)

The one time I saw Regina Spektor live in concert the feeling I was left with was disappointment.  However, I approached her new live set, Live In London, with optimism.  I was quite willing to chalk my initial uninspiring experience to an off night.

It didn't take long for my optimism to fade.

Many of the same criticisms I had of the Toronto show I saw are valid on the new album as well.  Despite being an incredible storyteller on her records, Spektor is completely detached from her audience.  The banter is practically nonexistent and there is nearly zero connection between performer and (granted, still enthusiastic) audience.

Spektor does precious little to alter the songs from the album state or provide her fans with any new listening experience.  When she does it's by letting her unique voice run amok.  It's her go-to trick and she uses it as a crutch...and annoying, annoying crutch.

Clocking in at 22-tracks, Spektor can't be accused of short-changing the paying customers, at least in terms of set length.  However, many of those songs are slow numbers that see Spektor as an almost uninterested observer rather than a star performing in front of an adoring throng.

Occasionally there is a gem.  "Hotel Song" and "The Calculation" show that Spektor's voice can be beautiful when she tones down the wackiness.  The jaunty "Folding Chair" and the groovy "Dance Anthem of the 80's" provide a pair of the record's few inspired moments.

The confirmation I now have is that Regina Spektor is not a great live performer.  The question that must be asked now is: why does this album even exist?

Best tracks: "Hotel Song", "Sailor Song"

Track listing for Live In London:
  • On the Radio
  • Eet
  • Folding Chair
  • Sailor Song
  • Blue Lips
  • Apres Moi
  • Dance Anthem of the 80's
  • Silly Eye-Color Generalizations
  • Bobbing for Apples
  • Wallet
  • Ode To Divorce
  • That Time
  • The Calculation
  • Machine
  • Laughing With
  • Man of a Thousand Faces
  • Hotel Song
  • Us
  • Fidelity
  • Samson
  • The Call
  • Love You're a Whore
4.0/10
Regina Spektor's website

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2 comments:

Kayla said...

First of all, Regina is my absolute favorite musician, so I'm undoubtedly biased about this.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy of this CD/DVD set, and your review made me a little sad. I've seen Regina live twice, once at a small college show and once at Radio City Music Hall, and both blew me away. I felt she managed to connect with the audience incredibly both times; she always seems so demure and genuinely grateful for her fans and their enthusiasm. I'd buy tickets to another concert in my area without a second thought. There are countless videos out there of her joking with the audience, even getting them involved by asking them to give her lyrics when she messes up. Her voice sounds better live, in my opinion, and it's great to hear her newer songs live and without the heavy production used on her last two albums.

I haven't actually been able to watch or listen to the new live album yet, so I can't say much else about that. But I just wanted to throw my opinion out there, because while I love Regina's albums, she is one of the few artists that I actually prefer listening to live, whether by bootleg, official recording, or concert.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous commenter. Regina is fabulous live, and I do prefer her voice live well. I also have the album "Live in London", which I find hard to believe you didn't like. One of the most calming and relaxing things I can do in this life is to cuddle up on my highback chair, and listen to that album.

I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it almost hurts me to see you write that she isn't good live, because that's when you can feel her music the most. I just hope your review didn't stop anyone from going to see her, because it would be a horrible shame.