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Posted on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 11 p.m.

Regina Spektor wows sold-out crowd at the Michigan Theater

By Will Stewart


Regina Spektor’s concert at the Michigan Theater on Tuesday exceeded the sums of the diminutive singer’s many and diverse talents.

She can sing. She writes quirky, yet insightful, songs. She plays piano and guitar with a facility that makes doing either look easy.

And, most importantly in any live setting, Spektor is a charming and engaging performer.

Yet Tuesday’s sold-out show was more than all these elements combined, amounting to something of an event that was at once inspiring and entertaining, somber and uplifting.

She was just that good.

Of course, she had an adoring, mostly college-aged crowd in the palm of her hands before she even played a note.

Performing both solo and backed by just a cellist, a violist and drummer, Spektor waltzed through a catalog-spanning, 75-minute set that followed her through tender love songs, jaunty, up-tempo numbers and even a self-penned country song that showcased the breadth of her talent.

Listen to Regina Spektor "Eet" live at Chicago Theater on Sept. 12 (MP3).

And she was rewarded warmly by the audience, which responded in kind and offered up multiple standing ovations, as well as shouts of devotion from well-meaning supporters.

“You guys are too nice,” she said before launching into the three-song encore that closed the night. “I don’t know what to say.”

Instead, she let her songs speak for her. Tunes that touch on God, love, friendship and sadness, without ever being anywhere near that specific in their themes, are Spektor’s specialty.

On record, they can occasionally sound cloying. But live, they emerge as heartfelt testaments to the people and small moments we all experience each day. On Tuesday, they were affirming and true. They were real.

Listen to Regina Spektor "Fidelity" live at Chicago Theater on Sept. 12 (MP3).

Sure, her breathy, ethereal voice's reach occasionally exceeds its own grasp. And yes, she was better served during a truncated solo spot during the middle of the show after her band's chamber-pop instrumentation betrayed its sometimes-limited utility.

But during the several occasions when Spektor really leaned into a lyric and pounded out one of her patented syncopated runs on the enormous Steinway that occupied center stage, she broke free of any external limitations and was simply on a plane of her own.

She was just that good.

Will Stewart is a free-lance writer for

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Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 11:05 p.m.

I was there tonight. One of the best concerts I've been to in a long time. Regina is an incredibly talented musician with a lot of stage presence and personality. It's hard not to like her.