As anyone who’s ever misheard the lyrics to Elton John’s “Benny & The Jets” knows, sometimes the word “boots” can be mistaken for one of our personal favorite cleavage euphemisms. Which might explain why, when one of the all-too-vocal audience members at Regina Spektor’s Town Hall show in NYC last night shouted, “I love your boots!” the singer adjusted her body-hugging floral wrap dress, wiggled a little on her piano bench and gave an eyelash-fluttering “Thanks.” She was, for the record, wearing a pair of impressive red suede boots, and they stayed planted firmly under her grand piano for the majority of her brilliant set.
It was that kind of crowd at Town Hall last night: They nearly gave her a standing ovation before she’d even played a single note. (Perhaps, like us, they were merely relieved to be rid of opening act Only Son, a geek-tastic local New York band who inspired my date to wonder, “Did they win a contest?”) But Spektor proved she deserved the advance praise when, out of the gate, she belted out an a cappella rendition of her song “Eight Miles High” (not the Byrds tune), tapping out a beat on the microphone as she went. In the following hour, she delivered jaw-dropping renditions of tunes from her latest LP, Begin to Hope, and was joined by a three-piece band for “Better,” “Fidelity,” “On The Radio” and a particularly spooky version of “Apres Moi” that included a verse in her native Russian.
Throughout, she was full of smiles and giggles, putting on one of the most intensely joyful rock shows we’ve seen all year. She saved two of her best songs — Soviet Kitsch‘s “Us” and Begin to Hope‘s “Samson” — for the encore, and it was only during the latter that her nimble fingers landed on a clunker of a chord. She stopped, parted her bright red lips for an embarrassed laugh, and said, “I knew there would have to be at least one fuck-up.” Another audience loudmouth yelled, “It’s OK, Regina,” and this time we couldn’t help but agree.