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Five Thoughts on Regina Spektor's Show Last Night

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    1. Thursday night's set at the downtown club Le Poisson Rouge was taped for a National Public Radio broadcast, and many of the ticket holders were regular pledgers. Turns out that NPR listeners are just as annoyingly chatty as any teenagers at a punk show. The background hum during some of Spektor's quieter numbers was distracting at times, but she took it in good stride, noting that people talking through her set was "just like the good old days." 

    2. A consummate pro, Spektor even ad-libbed some between-song bumpers for the station, reminding us that we're listening to NPR, to drive carefully and to avoid eating at McDonald's. (Preaching to the choir on that one.)
    3. The New York songwriter was ostensibly there to promote her album What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, which came out a few days ago. At this early stage Seats sounds like a solid piece of work -- a solid edition that sees her stretching out her production style with rumbling keyboard from producer Mike Elizondo. She was backed by a drummer, cellist and somewhat superfluous secondary keyboard player, but the emphasis as always was her deceptively intricate piano lines (her chops in this department are seriously underrated) and storytelling abilities, which ranged from "Ballad of a Politician," which was a scathing attack on greed that managed to find some pity for its subject, and "The Party," in which Spektor has lived long enough to get wistful for an out-of-control friend's antics.
    4. Things Spektor imitated in her songs: a drowning grasp, an old-school video game style explosion, a dolphin. All of these things worked within their given context. 
    5. The new songs were well-received and all, but the biggest reaction was probably for "Us," a single from her official debut Soviet Kitsch that gained widespread exposure via its inclusion on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. There's a seriously complicated vocal run in the middle of this song (just before the "den of thieves" part) that seems lighter than air, but helps tie this tricky composition together. She nailed it like it wasn't even a big deal, because she's a total pro.