Live Review: Regina Spektor, Only Son

11 December 2012 | 3:33 pm | Daniel Johnson

Despite her late arrival, judging by the elation on faces leaving tonight, no one is holding a grudge.

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Only Son – the stage moniker of Regina Spektor's husband and former Moldy Peaches member Jack Dishnel – cuts a lonely figure when he first steps on to the sprawling stage armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar,  but he quickly wins over the crowd with his sardonic wit and understated confidence. After a few moments of sharp banter with the crowd and opener You Stayed At Home, Dishnel introduces his “band” – an iPod loaded with backing tracks. Considering the rudimentary set-up, Only Son does a pretty decent job of sounding like an ensemble, with songs including Magic, Kick 'Em Out and Long Live The Future all getting an enthusiastic response, but Dishnel's playful audience-baiting and self-deprecation are the real highlights.

Ten minutes after the show is scheduled to start, a voice comes over the PA thanking us for our patience and informing us there will be “a very short delay but the show will start soon.” A further 20 minutes later, the voice tells us “we'll be back with the show very shortly”.  Then, almost 30 minutes later, Regina Spektor and her three-piece band – comprising a cellist, drummer and keyboardist – take to the stage. Spektor thanks us “so much for being so patient,” before launching straight into the a capella Ain't No Cover, and by the time she's taken her seat at the piano for The Calculation and On The Radio, all tardiness is forgiven. Small Town Moon, from her latest album What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, lulls the audience into complete silence, before several punters begin professing their love for Spektor, a trend that becomes tiring as night progresses. How, All The Rowboats and Blue Lips all go down well, as does a chilling version of Bulat Okudzhava's The Prayer in Russian, which highlights her vocal range better than any other song in tonight's set.

Ne Me Quitte Pas brings a welcome change of tone and pace, before her band exits and the three spotlights focus solely on Spektor for a heartfelt rendition of Firewood. She whispers a meek, muffled “thanks a lot”, her between-song shyness at odds with the confidence with which she performs, before sweetly introducing The Call as “a song from Narnia... the movie, not the place”, before wrapping up her set with Sailor Song and Folding Chair, curtsying and departing. Spektor then saves the best for last, returning to the stage for Us, a searing performance of Fidelity and a goose-bump-inducing version of Samson. Despite her late arrival, judging by the elation on faces leaving tonight, no one is holding a grudge.