Early in Regina Spektor’s (mostly) solo performance Tuesday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, a voice called out from the audience, “You’re very talented!”
As heckling goes, it was as polite as it sounds, because this was a passionately rapt crowd, mainly restricting itself to the occasional “I love you” (or even “I love your shoes!”). But the comment was also some spot-on music criticism: Spektor is really, really good.
She arrived onstage in a colorful dress with a tiered skirt and white Mary Janes, taking in the audience that flanked her around the hall.
“This is a nice way of being surrounded. Thank you so much,” she said, before twirling a bit, joking that she was moving around for the crowd while she could before sitting down at the piano. “I don’t know how to rotate. I play most of the time with my eyes closed so you’re not missing anything.”
On a mostly bare stage taken up by a grand piano, Spektor sounded great in the hall as she sang and accompanied herself on the piano for most of the evening, which also included forays into a cappella, electric guitar, drumming on a chair, and — why not? — tap dancing. The show was supporting “Home, Before and After,” her 2022 album; she’d postponed the original tour dates when she got COVID-19.
Opening the show with “Ain’t No Cover,” done with just voice and two fingers tapping on the microphone, Spektor moved to the piano for a run of songs that included favorites such as “Folding Chair” and “Better,” each interspersed with her good-natured comments.
“It’s like a conversation that gets interrupted by songs,” she joked about the night’s program.
She moved over to an electric piano and a wooden chair that she played with a drumstick during “Poor Little Rich Boy” and “Ballad of a Politician,” which led to some brief comments about “insane politicians” and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — she had a shirt for sale at the merch table whose proceeds were going to Ukrainian aid — before launching into a fierce “Apres Moi.”
Then, about midway through the show, Spektor was joined by a tap dancer in white overalls, Caleb Teicher, and they danced together as she sang in a charming routine.
“We’re totally professional,” joked Spektor as they performed “Silly Eye-Color Generalizations” and “Prisoners” with light choreography. “We know what we’re doing.”
Then Teicher — who’s “one of those brilliant types,” she said — moved over to play piano as Spektor sang “It’s You I Like,” a song by beloved children’s TV host Mr. Rogers, which she directed to every part of the hall. Does that sound absolutely lovely? It was.
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From there, she moved to guitar and shifted the mood a bit for “Bobbing for Apples” and “That Time.”
“I have to say I’m feeling very guilty right now,” she said, noting the presence of a young fan sitting near the front. “I’m about to curse up a storm.”
Following “Spacetime Fairytale,” Spektor spoke a bit about the Jewish holiday of Purim, before introducing “Ink Stains” a song she’d written after hearing an NPR report on a Holocaust denier, a concept she said she’d never contemplated before, stunned that anyone would deny genocide.
“On Purim, it’s fitting to play this song,” she said before delivering a searing performance of the not-often-played song, which evoked images of concentration camps and those who’d deny their existence.
After that, not ready to finish the show but needing a moment before launching into another song, Spektor suggested that the audience note the arrival of the full moon.
“Let’s just howl at the moon together,” she said as the room erupted into lupine cacophony. “We should just all howl.”
As the noisy pack returned to human form and the mood lightened, Spektor said with appreciation, “Could there be nicer people surrounding me?”
Then, still in strong, clear voice more than 20 songs in, Spektor finished with a string of fan favorites: “On the Radio,” “What Might Have Been” and “Fidelity,” even experiencing a rare flub on the piano.
“It’s only when I open my eyes it’s a problem,” she joked.
Finally, after a brief goodbye and expressions of gratitude to a number of people who’d worked on the show, the hall roared with a loud, enthusiastic standing ovation. Spektor returned for an encore of the lovely “Samson,” which ended the night.
Throughout the evening, Spektor displayed her unique gift for music that’s moving, melancholic, melodic, funny, dark and wonderful. While she could easily be a top-tier singer or a pianist or a songwriter alone, it’s the fusing of her immense talents and idiosyncratic creative impulses that delivers something that’s even better together.
As the man said, she’s very talented.
When: Tuesday, March 7
Where: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles