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Regina Spektor at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin on Monday 19th of August, 2013

There is a lot to be said for walking onto the stage in front of a sold-out Olympia Theatre and playing your first song a capella whilst tapping the microphone to keep the beat. It may sound like a bad Britain’s Got Talent audition but it’s actually Regina Spektor’s opening song for her first Irish show in a long, long time. The tickets were eagerly snapped up so anybody lucky enough to have a ticket is determined to make the most of it. They give the New York raised, piano pioneer their utmost attention from the very first note with a respectful silence.

Regina Spektor emerged from the coffee shops of New York in the early noughties as the quirky pianist with one hell of a voice. In recent years she has ironed out her quirkier qualities to become musical force to be reckoned with. Although most people would struggle to name one of her songs, they have appeared in ads, television shows and movies around the world.

Taking her place behind a jet black grand piano she is backed by a three-piece band with a drummer, cellist and keyboard player. Tonight, mid-tempo, off-kilter piano pop is the order of the day. The Calculation, On The Radio and Dance Anthem of the 80’s all fit into this category. On the Radio signals the first proper sing along from this sold-out Dublin crowd. There’s no nudge from Regina for anyone to join in, the participation is both enthusiastic and voluntary. The click-along pacing and catchy lyrics mean singing along is a must, and it rarely lets up. With 10 of tonight’s songs coming from last year’s ‘What We Saw From the Cheap Seats’ it’s great to see so many people familiar with her newer material.

It’s not all chirpy singalongs tonight however. The tightly wound tension of All The Rowboats adding a more sinister element to the proceedings. Her voice commands an air of authority during Rowboats but at the same time is quite fragile. It reiterates that Regina Spektor is no one trick pony. We’ve Got Time, her theme song for Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black’, packs a massive punch live and takes upon an almost rock-like element.

The star of the show tonight is of course Regina’s fantastic voice. That’s not to put down her stellar skills at the piano but her voice definitely comes out the winner. It has a range covering multiple octaves. The entire time she is on stage you feel she’s in complete control of it. It’s also a testament to her talents as a performer that she can play an entire song in Russian and not lose a single member of the audience as she does for The Prayer.

The highlight of the night comes from closing song Samson. The band clear the stage and Regina is left alone, lit by a spotlight, and sitting at her piano. Samson is a tear-jerker at the best of times but tonight the crowd elevated the track to another level. 1,000 odd people sang beautifully in unison as delicately as a choir. You could see Regina was moved by the gesture and we’re still finding it hard to believe that it wasn’t rehearsed beforehand. Leaving the Olympia on that tender note we’re already eagerly awaiting Mrs Spektor’s return to these shores.

Regina Spektor Photo Gallery

Photos: Debbie Hickey