Once the queen of the East Village’s early aughts anti-folk scene, singer-songwriter Regina Spektor has settled nicely into a now over 20-year career that has featured many styles of music tied together by her impassioned vocals and dynamic piano playing. On Saturday, March 18 at Montclair, New Jersey’s Wellmont Theater, she provided an intimate setting to take the sold-out audience through the labyrinth of her creative spirt… and it was a thing to behold.
She immediately curtailed a restlessness throng that had waited almost 50 minutes after the scheduled 8:00 PM showtime, by singing the Hebrew greeting of “Shalom Aleichem” (“Peace be upon you”) acapella. It was a riveting prologue to an evening filled with surprises that spanned her quirky, expansive canon from well-known numbers like the epic thrust of “Us” and the bouncy pop of “Fidelity” to the deeper cuts like the solemnity of the driving “Après Moi” and the sweeping majesty of “Grand Hotel.”
The centerpiece of the set were songs from Spektor’s latest effort, 2022’s Home, before and after, as she worked in four – the haunting, “Becoming All Along,” the contrite but stabbing, “Loveology,” and the gorgeously sing-song, “What Might Have Been.” The highlight was “Spacetime Fairytale,” a nearly nine-minute opus with several dynamic movements which acts as the album’s anchor. While playing it head down, eyes closed, it was as if she were lost in its delectate intricacy. Emerging from the trance, she joked, “Oh, you guys are still here? That was a long one.”
I was especially mesmerized by two numbers, her use of a drumstick on a chair, wacked in time by her right hand while her left chorded an electric piano for the biting, “Poor Little Rich Boy” from her early 2004 masterpiece, Soviet Kitsch. All the while delivering the impeccable melody with her voice. And a wonderfully satirical take on Christian myth-making in “Baby Jesus,” which I had not heard before and does not appear on any of her official releases.
In good spirits and regaling us with tales of her nightmares, her experiences during writing the songs, and her adorable giggle, Spektor announced this was the last stop on her several months long world tour. The extended trek across stages and over two decades of music has not dimmed her powerful piano playing or the most arresting of her instruments, her elastic, emotive, and chilling voice.