Regina Spektor• July 6, 2022• Sandy Amphitheater
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
Indie singer-songwriter, Regina Spektor played a two-night residency at the Sandy Amphitheater. I was privileged to attend night two, the Wednesday night sold-out show. Sandy Amphitheater is facing north to south with trees lining up the west side of the venue. This is a perfect setup because, despite the warm summer’s eve (I wrote that for the Kenny Rogers fans), the sun was blocked by the trees, and most of the amphitheater was shaded. I really enjoy walking into a concert venue and seeing the look on people’s faces. It’s the first indicator of whether this will be a good crowd and a good show. Sometimes crowds want to be social, be seen, and strangely enough, can make the music secondary. That was not the case with this crowd.
Of course, before the music started people were very social and in great spirits. I could see people running into people they hadn’t seen for a while. While concerts have made quite the comeback, many people are still just returning to live music. One of those people is the great Regina Spektor.
Regina walked on stage alone with a sheepish grin on her face. She seemed to be walking someone gingerly, measured in a way. She had a microphone in hand and stood centerstage while the audience applauded her arrival. On the stage behind her was a beautiful grand piano, an electric guitar, and a keyboard. I wasn’t sure if a guitarist and keyboardist would be joining Spektor in a minute, or if it would be just her. Maybe I was late on the news. Perhaps everyone else knew before me that this was a one-woman show.
Regina Spektor shared with us that the concert was a little touch and go for a moment. She told us that she almost got heat stroke. I saw later that night on her social media that she had been out at the Salt Flats. I’m sure the heat was unbearable, especially for someone with such fair skin. But it appeared as if she rallied and the love of the crowd seemed to strengthen her. After addressing the crowd, Regina began the concert by singing “Ain’t No Cover” acapella. She flubbed a lyric and decided to start over, sure she would get it this time. And she did. The crowd supported her by cheering her on. As the song progressed, she tapped the beat on the microphone adding a really cool effect to the song. The crowd went crazy at the conclusion of the song and if there was any question before, we now knew we were in for quite a night.
Following “Ain’t No Cover”, Spektor made her way to the grand piano. The classically trained pianist dazzled us with her fingerwork on songs like “Folding Chair” and “Becoming All Alone”. The latter off her 2022 album Home, before and after. Regina shared with us that this was her first tour in three years. She felt like booking these shows would be a soft landing for her after not performing live for so long. She told us not to say it’s like riding a bike. Because she’s terrible at riding a bike. She learned when she was 12 and never got past the wobbly stage. Throughout the night there was a stop and start or forgetting a lyric or two. But non of it mattered. Everyone just seemed so happy to be hearing and seeing Regina Spektor again after the long layoff. The mishaps made her more endearing.
Regina once again stepped away from the piano and sang a song not listed on the setlist. I’ve looked and I don’t think it’s released anywhere. I found it on YouTube and it’s titled “Reginasaurus”. The lyrics go as such…
If I were a Dinosaur
I’d be a Reginasaurus
And if I knew a million English words
I’d have my own Spektor’s Thesaurus
If I was born in the merry month of May
I would be a Taurus
And if I had a little extra time on my hands
I would surely join a chorus
The lyrics go on but I’m sure you’re seeing the humor in the song and the audience laughed at the end of every phrase. I was continually amazed at the command Regina Spektor had over this audience. There was no band, not one other person took the stage with her the entire night. And yet the venue was silent. Totally captivated by the music and the words and the stories she told. There was a couple in front of me and the boyfriend was trying to tell his girlfriend how much he liked the song and talk about it. She was so sweet about it, but she wanted to make sure her boyfriend knew it was not the time for sharing stories. It was the time for listening. He kindly got the hint and they just listened.
I saw situations like that all over. If someone had something they wanted to say to someone else it would be quietly shared and very brief. I’ve seen louder crowds at a Broadway musical. I loved how attentive, respectful, and focused this audience was.
A special moment in the show was when Regina dedicated “How” to her musician friend Daniel Cho who passed away 12 years ago. It was emotional and heartfelt. When the song ended she asked for a moment of silence. We sat there soaking in the silence. It was so quiet. I’m sure many of us were thinking about loved ones we’ve lost, about Regina’s loss of her friend. Spektor stated that it was hard to move on from that. But she mentioned that maybe we didn’t have to. Maybe we could take it with us. I believe we did.
Spektor continued to impress the audience with songs from across her discography. Songs like “Two Birds” really got the crowd excited. She told us that she came across a TikTok of kids singing the song in sign language. Being able to see Regina perform these songs with just a piano and her voice gave the songs a new feel. I have always felt that a song that can be stripped down to its bare bones and still have a major impact is the sign of a great song. Turns out Spektor has a catalog full of these types of songs.
The night ended with two audience favorites. “Fidelity” I believe is the first song people think of when they think of Regina Spektor. It’s a great representation of her style and songwriting. It lightened the air in the amphitheater after some weighty impactful moments. I could see people bobbing their heads a bit. And even in the darkness smiles were easy to spot.
“Samson” ended the night. The song began and a large ovation rang out throughout an audience that I believe could have sat there for another hour. As I looked around I could see people clinging to one another. I saw others getting emotional, perhaps reflecting on the difficulties of love, and relationships, and how they apply to their story. That’s what is so amazing about these songs. They’re so unique but at times so specifically relatable. Regina Spektor has a gift for songwriting. When you hear her songs, you know it’s her. It was a powerful way to end a night of great music.
In the middle of the show, Regina told the audience, “This is pretty surreal”. A fan shouted back, “Agreed!”. He spoke for all of us.
Actual Setlist according to Setlist.fm
Ain’t No Cover
Becoming All Alone
What Might’ve Been
Ballad of a Politician
Poor Little Rich Boy
Bobbing for Apples