Regina Spektor @ Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, CA

Review & Photography by: Steven Ward

Mystifying in the tender unraveling of her imaginative narratives, Regina Spektor weaved tales of beauty and despair from behind her piano in her stop at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. With a stage that might’ve swallowed even a modestly sized ensemble, Spektor and her piano managed to engulf the entirety of the venue in an enchanting fog. From the moment she opened her mouth and allowed her fingers to begin waltzing their way across the ivory, all the way to her final song, fans were left with their mouths slightly agape and glossy-eyed throughout. Live Spektor manages to fill any venue to the brim with the crystallized wail and sweet murmurs of her fairytales–and her sound is only further fleshed out to an orchestral breadth with the help of a drummer and cellist.

Spektor is as much a pianist as she is a storyteller and her captivating nature is owed not only to her heartwrenching crooning but the very characters and tales she conjures up. Immovable behind her piano, weaving everything from the curiously beguiling (“Grand Hotel”) to the more cautionary and sinister (“The Trapper and the Furrier”). Or the emotionally cutting “Samson” and its gloriously moving take on the hero’s tale, one that burns with an eruptive gentleness with every soft whisper that is punctuated by her piano’s clarion ring. Spektor doesn’t just move her hands over her keys–at any moment she could be barely fingering them, her tips whimsically grazing their surface, and the next she’s thundering with her arms elbows-deep in the keyboard. Each tale is as poignant as the next, Spektor might be less-inclined to the giddy rhythmics of Billy Joel, but she wields a similar penchant for painting modern fables that are so imbued with hope and tragedy that they leave you unsure exactly what and how to feel.

 

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