Regina Spektor Quiets the Heart of Atlanta
Indie darling Regina Ilyinichna Spektor immigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States at the age of nine, having already begun her classical piano training three years earlier. Several albums later, and with a husband and baby in her life, she is still putting out albums of dreamy yet bold melodies that continue to win her adoration from audiences young and old.
Her music has always had a quality of hidden emotion behind it, as she often coats bold, personal lyrics behind pretty melodies on the piano and seduces the listener's ear with her sweet, clear voice. She has a remarkable gift for tune, often making dangerous departures from an expected melody line, only to revisit and conclude a verse with precision control over her voice.
The audience at her sold-out performance at the Tabernacle in Atlanta was a highly varied cross-section of culture. Young and old, rich and poor; all were gathered to hear a shared favorite do what she does best. Spektor’s stage presence was simple but effective. She sat at a piano under a spotlight while a drummer, cellist, and backup keyboardist surrounded her in the shadows.
With no opener, she commanded the stage from the outset and even as people shouted requests at her, she stuck to the set list taped to her piano. While people did scream and shout requests in between tracks, I was very impressed at how respectful the audience was during her songs. I’ve never heard the Tabernacle so quiet during a show, as everyone paid close attention to every note. As the applause would break out after each song’s conclusion, Spektor simply smiled demurely and thanked everyone sincerely.
At one point, the other band members left the stage and she played a few songs on the piano alone, and at a few points during the night she left the piano herself to take up a microphone by hand while the band played their instruments. Gasping, wailing, and murmuring into the microphone, she almost took on the mannerisms of a rapper, bouncing her hands to the beat of the music while she sang out her creations. I saw several people crying at a few points during her performance, and the whole room was spellbound for those two hours while she took us on a journey through old favorites and some of her newer music.
She spoke to the audience at one point about her own immigration story. She noted that she had come to the United States as a refugee, believing in the values and greatness that it stood for. She promised to always do everything in her power to keep it that country that once captured her imagination.
So here we are, in 2017, while tensions between Russian and the U.S. once again threaten the peace we have worked so hard for. People like Regina Spektor are a clear reminder that by an overwhelming majority, immigrants come to survive and build, not to steal and harm us. We would do well to remember that, and if you need any reminders, go listen to her music. It comes from a place deep within the human heart.
Photos by Missy Stowell for Bullet Music.