Regina Spektor, “Live in London”, by Stefan Zorn
Do you have a “perfect live album”? Can there even be such a thing? Part of what makes music so special to me is that there is no right answer to this question. Even for me, what I consider my perfect live album changes all the time – which is a good thing. I cannot imagine being “stuck” with one album all the time, no matter how great it is… At this point in time, “Live in London” by Regina Spektor represents to me what a great live album should be – amazing songs, fresh new interpretations of familiar songs, an audience that really gets into the music, lyrics that make you think and great sound with lots of interesting instruments (could that really have been a siren alarm? And how does that work so well in a song???).
It is really hard not to love Regina Spektor. Since she burst onto the music scene in 2001, her music can honestly be described as “quirky”. In fact, Wikipedia claims that her music is “anti-folk”, whatever that means. Hailing from New York with Russian roots, she managed to stay interesting and relevant until today. How she managed to not break through to mainstream success is a mystery to me. Even though, there is an official Regina Spektor Day in New York (and they say that San Francisco is quirky).
“Live in London” was recorded in 2010. Regina Spektor has done some limited touring since then, but nothing big as far as I know. For this album, she pulled together songs from 3 or 4 different albums, plus some previously unrecorded songs. Was there ever a better opening of a live album than “On the Radio”, “Eet” and “Folding Chair”? These songs pull you right into Regina Spektor’s world with super memorable melodies, surprising observations and very clever songwriting with lines such as “and the sea is just a wetter version of the skies” and “‘I’ve got a perfect body ’cause my eyelashes catch my sweat”.
The album has 22 songs with almost no filler material. Could it have done without “Silly Eye Color Generalizations”? Yes, but even that song has some interesting lyrics. The stand-out songs for me are “Machine” and “Laughing With”. If you do not tear up listening to “Laughing With” then you are in the wrong hobby… The only artist I can think of that has a similar sensibility is Mitski, who is an amazing new artist – just check out her live performance of “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” (https://www.youtube.com/
|Mitski – My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars (Live on KEXP)
http://KEXP.ORG presents Mitski performing “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 14, 2016. Host: Cheryl Waters Audio Engineer: Kevin Suggs Cameras: Jim Beckmann, Alaia D’Alessandro & Scott Holpainen Editor: Alaia D’Alessandro http://kexp.org https://mitski.com
– great title BTW. I really hope that Regina Spektor will go on tour again soon. If this album is any indicator, it will be an amazing experience.