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Concert Reviews:
Subtleties work in Regina Spektor's favor at The Fillmore

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2017

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DETROIT -- Regina Spektor thanked fans "for being patient with us" before starting her show Thursday night, March 23, at the Fillmore Detroit a bit late.

"Computers are not our friend," she noted with a slight grimace as she sat at the grand piano near center stage.

But the Russian-born singer-songwriter didn't let problems, major or minor, deter her and her three musicians (keyboards, drums and cello) from pleasing her exuberant, vociferous faithful with a generous and efficient 25-song, hour-and-45-minute show, concentrating not surprisingly, on her latest release, last year's "Remember Us To Life."

Spektor, sporting a silk print blouse and black slacks, let the music do the talking, too, pausing only before "Ballad Of A Politician" to tell the Fillmore crowd how proud she was to have come to America "as a refugee...taken in and taken care of" and how proud she is to be an immigrant." She slammed the Trump administrations efforts to limit immigration and dedicated the song "to better days."

And Spektor barely lost her stride as she flub a portion of "The Call," working her way through until she recovered and covering her face only briefly afterwards before going into the next song.

Thursday's show certainly demonstrated Spektor's exceptional range as a singer, songwriter and musical stylist. She glided from uptempo pop songs ("On The Radio," "Older And Taller," "Tornadoeland," "Better," "Small Bill$") to gentle, heart-wringing ballads such as "Blue Lips" and "Obsolete" with ease. And while her arrangements were Spartan, there was no hiding the sophisticated ambitions in material like "Bleeding Heart," "Sailor Song" and "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)," with their careful textures and clever shifts.

A solo rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2" was an appropriate cover as well. Like Cohen, Spektor is idiosyncratic and poetic -- occasionally challenging but with plenty points of entry for the attentive listener. There were plenty of those at the Fillmore on Thursday, although more than a few in the bar area who treated Spektor as background noise for a night out.

That was their loss; Spektor's understated but fully engaged performance was a case study in how less can truly be more, and how what makes you listen closely is often well worth hearing.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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