Regina Spektor Live In London

"Excellent"

Regina Spektor Live In London Review


Review of Regina Spektor's live album & DVD Live In London

Back in the day a live album was usually some kind of contractual filler, an exercise in thanks-very-much--now-here's-the-hits. To complement their throwaway nature, normally the sound quality varied between post-production airbrush or third rate bootleg, leaving the listener none the wiser either way as to how the thing actually went.

The changed mechanics of the twenty first century music biz means that playing live now equals the best way to make a buck, especially if your star has faded in actual unit shifting terms (Ask The Police, Bon Jovi et al) and the release of a concert DVD is now a bona fide event, as opposed to something your old label makes you do under threat of withholding your royalties.

Arriving in New York after fleeing Russia in the Perestroika era, Regina Spektor began to rapidly broaden the horizons originally set by her father's behind the Iron Curtain tape swapping - The Moody Blues, Beatles and Queen - to accommodate a raft of sounds from punk to gospel. This cultural downpour all added more grist to a fervent childhood songwriter's vista, creating a maverick, boundary free spirit of creativity that leaves her work best described as somewhere along the admittedly broad vector between PJ Harvey, Emiliana Torrini and Karen Carpenter.

It's a di/tri-chotomy which has sometimes spawned confusion amongst listeners, hence her comparatively far from meteoric career progression since the relase of her major label debut album Soviet Kitsch in 2003. If selling out the Hammersmith Apollo as here is anything to go by however, her slow-ish burning rise to popularity is now reaping dividends.

Recorded in late 2009, the unoriginally entitled Live In London contains both audio and visual chapters for this growing army of fans, but the CD version is in truth a little two dimensional in nature, with the crowd reduced to an occasional appreciative gesture. To add to the feeling that the performance could've been taking place in any empty room, the singer herself remains casually enigmatic throughout, with any between-song vignettes removed: on this evidence, Bono she is not. By the time the stomping country sounds of final track Love You're A Whore roll into view, the listener is left praying for a misplaced chord or bum note, any kind of proof in fact that Pro Tools wasn't totally in command.

Churlish? well, the main event here is of course the actual footage, with our heroine taking to the stage looking impossibly pale with a smear of bloody lipgloss across her face, looking impossibly pale and wearing a simple black dress. Before this turns into a piece for Grazia, she's also playing an impressive Steinway Grand piano (Borrowed, the sleeve notes reveal) whilst occasionally picking up an impossibly aqua coloured guitar.

The bulk of the material here is from US breakthrough album Begin To Hope and its successor Far, showcasing the emigrees' gift for bringing richly evocative stories to life from lyrics which are normally profound but occasionally banal.

Opening with the sublime On The Radio, both Blue Lips and Après Moi are richly baroque, drawing on classicist roots and her sense of deeply melodic ingenue.

Other material reveals that this is far from the limit of her versatility; delivered a capella, Silly Eye Colour Generalisations owes a debt to classic Broadway, whilst the single chord of That Time recalls the inherent simplicity of Jonathan Richman's Roadrunner.

Whilst her occasional dalliances with what passes for the avant garde may keep her Jools Holland cache writ large, it's still the business of delivering good old fashioned singer/songwriter goods which has likely drawn the majority of tonight's 3,000 punters. Predictably, they don't leave disappointed, with the MOR-tinged Us, Fidelity and finally the gorgeous, Sarah McLachlan-esque Samson all leaving 'em wishing they were still allowed lighters to stick in the air.

Inexplicably, some of the "Bonus" material appears to be additional tracks from the same gig, plus some otherwise disposable bits and bobs such as speeded up footage of the soundcheck. The final item does have an air of genuine poignancy though; cellist and long time collaborator Daniel Cho was to drown the following year whilst swimming in Lake Geneva, and his life and work are celebrated, as it's also remembered in the singer's own accompanying notes.

As a document, Live in London happily wears a number of hats; old fans will be pleased to get something with a hint of greatest hits about it, whilst new fans can access Regina Spektor from an accessible starting point. And happily for aficionados of all modern day concert recordings, gone are the days when you can hear a discombobulated voice in the background asking for a pint of Skol and a bag of pork scratchings.



Regina Spektor Live In London

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 67 mins

In Theaters: Monday 22nd November 2010

Distributed by: Cinema Purgatorio

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 9.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Adria Petty

Producer: N/A

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.