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Regina Spektor – Manchester Apollo

Regina Spektor – Manchester Apollo – 03/12/2009


Ticket (very censored)

From what I could see of it the inside of the Apollo is very impressive, but more light and a better view (than from the circle) would be needed to check this. I must admit I do like The Palace more.

Jenny Owen Youngs

Jenny Owen Youngs

The Support

The brief ripple of applause and cheers were quickly muted when the theatre realised that it was only the support act. I start by saying this is one of the the best support act I’ve seen. Jenny Owen Youngs was a revelation, a little weird, but very talented singer song writer from Montclair, New Jersey. Those fans of Weeds will have heard her work.

I will show her with her glasses as the UK Border Authority were kind enough to relieve her of her contact lenses.

Jenny Owen Youngs merchandise (slightly censored)

She appeared to be a little nervous at first, but her powerful voice, great songs and off the wall commentary hooked the audience and me. After she finished I hot-footed it down to the rapidly filling lobby – I’m not surprised as she had plugged her CDs and said she would be there – unfortunately she wasn’t – but her CDs where. After another demonstration of my skills in getting rapidly to the front of a merchandise queue – I bought one and a few of her badges.

I always buy something from a gig – usually a t-shirt – but they were not really to my taste. On turning round I realised the whole lobby was now a sea of people, you’ve seen it before, the merchandise is never in a sensible place. I managed to get back to my seat in plenty of time for the main event.

Regina Spektor

A Soviet-born American singer-songwriter and pianist.

Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor

The band took to the stage first, a bald and slightly crazy looking drummer (nothing new there), a cellist and a violinist. Regina Spektor followed and sat at her black grand piano centre stage.

At this point I will geek out a bit and single out the sound engineer(s), I think only Brian Wilson’s was better and who ever did the lighting deserves a mention, spot on throughout and far more creative than I have expected. I will also mention two very interesting pieces of stage furniture, mirror balls. One was huge (at least a meter in diameter) sat behind the piano and the other much smaller off to the left of the stage as I looked down. Remember these for later.

A few fantastic songs in and she made a little mistake not long into Mary Ann but recovered admirably after a big round of applause from the audience. About half way though the set the band left and she moved away from her piano and took up a microphone for an a capella number called Silly Eye Color Generalizations – strange but brilliant. I’d never heard it before, but there was humour there and getting the word Generalizations into a song is impressive too.

I admit now I didn’t expect her to be as good as she was – her voice is rich and strong (again the sound engineer did a good job, but I guess the Apollo has good acoustics too). Even from up in the circle it was a pleasure to watch her hands move over the keyboard.

Regina Spektor with guitar

Regina Spektor with guitar (Is it a Gibson?)

Not satisfied with her outstanding skills on a grand piano she also broke out an electric keyboard and a stunning aqua-marine guitar (I think it was a Gibson).

After what she said was the last song – there was a brief break, the house lights stayed down and a roadie wandered on, changing some equipment around and replacing and empty bottle of water with a fresh one. I wonder, will there be an encore?

Of course there was, it’s an essential part of any gig these days isn’t it?

It was a very long encore, but I’d have been happy with just the first song. I have a couple of times been to a gig a found new appreciation of a song I liked, it happened when I saw Billy Joel and it happened again tonight – it was easily the highlight of the night (I do hope I’m not building this up too much) the song was Samson.  Remember those two mirror balls, well all the lights but one were focussed on the large one and one was focussed on the small one. Regina Spektor, alone on the stage was almost silhouetted by the light spraying off the large mirror ball behind her piano. The whole theatre was bathed in starlight. The wall at the back of the stage, with all the bands equipment in place looked like a city scape at night. I’ve been humming the song for two days now… The band returned for the rest of the encore and the cellist pulled out a cool looking electric double base.

All in all the night was great and I would highly recommend seeing Regina Spektor live.

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  1. 25/01/2010 at 21:29

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