Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Headliner:Regina Spektor
Support: Only Son
Venue:Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, 19th February 2007

What is it about gigs that mean that they very rarely open their doors on time? Even turning up 15 minutes after the doors should have opened, I found a growing queue outside Glasgow Queen Margaret Union, one of Glasgow University’s student unions. While we stood in the drizzle, those of us weren’t students had to fill in forms for no other apparent reason than to be entered into the QMU’s database (though excuses were made about it being a student venue there fore necessary, even though I’ve been in before without having to do so). After that we had the ritual of getting wrist bands if you were over 18 and wanted to access the bar, since it was an over 14s gig.

Eventually we get in. Eventually support goes on in the shape of Only Son. A solo singer guitarist, Jack Dishel, ex of Stipplicon and The Moldy Peaches. Accompanied by backing tracks from his MP3 player balanced on a chair, he played a number of songs from his album The Drop To The Top. His approach was easy going, to his music and to his between song banter. Reasonably pleasant listening if nothing else, he got the crowd onside by making them laugh quite well. About to finish someone shouts from the audience, so he quickly stops the track and changes, “This one goes to the guy who actually knows my stuff!” Which is met with a small cheer, “And to everyone who cheered for that guy.” Finally wrapping up his show he told a story to music, putting on an appalling Scottish accent, that the crowd let him off with.

Regina Spektor comes on stage by herself, dressed in a bright red Borat t-shirt, which she later explains that she got while playing in Texas. Her first piece is a purely vocal piece, accompanied by her finger tapping a rhythm out on the microphone. She then sat at her piano and played a number of tracks unaccompanied. Before being joined by the band who played with up to the encore. Most of her recorded stuff is vocal and piano, with odd little add ons, so I wasn’t sure how it would sound with the band alongside. At times they sounded a little out of place, but for the most part they were non-invasive and complimentary, which was a little surprising and quite pleasing. For the encore she returned, playing a couple of tracks again unaccompanied, before playing another couple of tracks with the band.

Regina has done a number of albums, though the first CD to be released properly in the UK was Mary Ann Meets The Grave Diggers And Other Stories, which was a collection of material from Soviet Kitsch, Songs and 11:11. One of the tracks featured on Mary Ann and Soviet Kitsch was Us, which was a single, and was picked up as the music for Sky TV in the UK. Last year she released her current album Begin To Hope. After her first unaccompanied track she played Summer In The City from Begin To Hope, working through Better, Fidelity, That Time, On The Radio, 20 Years Of Snow, Hotel Song, Apres Moi and culminating with Samson as the second track of the encore. The first track of the encore was Us, for which the audience roared its pleasure. Other tracks included Poor Little Rich Boy, Sailor Song, Carbon Monoxide, Your Honour and The Flowers. Mixed through the set were a handful of new tracks, 3 of which [Bobbing for Apples] I had heard online previously and 2 of which I had never heard at all, including the country and western piece [Love (You’re a Whore)] she played as part of her encore.

The set was filled with little flourishes and improvisations, so that most of the songs felt quite different from the recorded versions. To a degree Regina isn’t necessarily what I would “normally” listen to, but as ever my tastes remain an eclectic thing, and there is just something about her way with words, the power of her voice, and melodies that I find incredibly charming and amusing. All of that came across live, and her performance was just a lot of fun.

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