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aussietony last won the day on December 29 2012

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  1. New Zealand and Australia Tour anyone?

    Regina was generous to her Melbourne fans - we could feel her own enjoyment as she performed.
  2. (Apologies for the length of this - in short Regina excelled!) At the Plenary in Melbourne on Friday 14 December 2012, the genius was no longer next door but fortunately for us on stage doing her stuff as only Regina Spektor can. After an impressive New York appetiser in the form of Jack Dishel aka Only Son, the way was left clear for the other member of the household to delight us with her musicianship, voice and inimitable turn of phrase. A quick hello to her audience and a moment to pick up a microphone were the only impediments to an unannounced launch into Ain’t No Cover, done a Capella just to show that the piano isn’t another body part. Having proven that the mezzo-soprano was in fine fettle, Regina then set the ivories on a carnival ride, beginning with The Calculation. The crowd which had gathered for a quality Friday night helping of art greeted this choice with a requisite level of enthusiasm, aware that the piano playing had hit the same high standard as the accompanying vocal. On The Radio belied its title by being presented live on stage, and in the space of just three songs Melbourne had received justification for its love affair with a charming chanteuse. Small Town Moon is track one from the latest Spektorial studio album and also became Regina’s first offering tonight from that creation, released earlier this year. The changes of pace in the song give it a clear edge and the benefit was more pronounced live. The backing band was appropriately understated throughout, but at times these quality musicians shared the spotlight, as with Ode To Divorce, where Regina sang like a cello, creating a harmony with the normally inanimate instrument. Next a sensational double hit with two 2012 singles - How immediately followed by All The Rowboats. The latter is lyrically masterful and I too worry for those violins. How is a beautifully crafted song and the often underrated vocal range of Regina Spektor allows for the aching ballad to be transported into our psyches in the most telling fashion – no more effective than tonight. Two more songs from the Far album were the next beneficiaries of a live performance, firstly the thought provoking Blue Lips and then the equally important The Sword & The Pen. Not for the first or last time, it became just Regina and her piano evoking the full scale of emotions and demanding intimate attention. The Prayer, a poem from François Villon, is written in Russian, but the melody and the passion with which it was sung almost discounts the language, and still further we were drawn into the growing Spektor tapestry. A break from the piano, and Only Son joined Regina on stage to sing their co-written Call Them Brothers. Something new for me, and refreshing to hear these two voices work so well together on what appears on first exposure to be another powerful track. On her way back to the piano, Regina stood a few valuable minutes at the keyboards to donate a favourite – Dance Theme Of The 80’s. Sure, this is safe territory, but every effort was made to give it something special, and it was appreciated. Better became the second sojourn to the Begin To Hope album, and it only required a couple of notes for fans to realise that another memorable reading of the radio friendly melody had begun, and kudos to input from the drums on this one. Until now, Regina had been careful to choose from a variety of her rich sources of material, but realising that Melbourne had not seen her since the recording of What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, she took care that most of that album be delivered live, six of the tracks in fact in the final eight, pre encore. During the evening, between songs, the more vocal fans were yelling requests which were politely ignored at the time, but in most instances eventually answered in the affirmative by singing them. One particularly popular ask was for Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas), and it made its entrance to rapturous applause. Regina respectfully included Melbourne in the lyric, replacing Paris to give us “...I love Melbourne in the rain…” which was rather prophetic given the weather outside. One of the most meaningful songs which Regina sings live is Firewood, and it happens to be one of my very favourites, so when it showed up I had expectations I thought would be difficult to fill, yet I had nothing to fear. When you have created a lyric as poignant as Firewood, with a simple melody and room for piano interlude, all the stars align for a memorable concert rendition, which is precisely the outcome. This alone repaid my ticket several times over. How to follow? Change tack completely of course, and Oh Marcello is from a different postcode, maybe different galaxy altogether. This is Regina at her most playful, borrowing a classic 60s song and adding an Italian accent not to forget the beat boxing from her vocal bag of tricks. The fourth of what amounted to a Cheap Seats quartet was Ballad Of A Politician, a bluesy, satirical look at the road to success. It, and the other 6 tracks so far gleaned from the album had made successful Melbourne concert debuts and any could become regular features of Spektorculars in the future. The Chronicles Of Narnia - Prince Caspian became the recipient of Regina's magic with a classy ballad, The Call, and it continued its run of concert engagements to as much acclaim as its follower Sailor Song, not quite as Disney as The Call but still a winner despite Mary Ann continuing to be a bitch. The next two songs again showcased Cheap Seats, but still no Patron Saint. A little disappointing as I rate it highly, but that is me being self indulgent. I missed Folding Chair and Man Of A Thousand Faces too but fortunately Regina recorded those as part of her Live In London for our enjoyment. What we did hear tonight were Open and The Party to finish the official programme. Open starts with a great coupling of lyric and piano and surprises upon initial hearing by maintaining a constant classic base of beautiful ballad with exquisite key changes but introducing Regina-esque vocal sound bytes in the second part to chilling effect. A worthy substitute for Patron Saint in the Plenary. The Party is another of Regina’s metaphors for the highs and lows of a personal relationship, with each descriptive verse building to an almost sing along chorus and before we were set to hear more, it was over, and Regina and her band had left the stage. The pleas for an encore were varied but unanimous and the desperate cries terminated with the reappearance of Regina and her band - the final 4 songs tapped into earlier recordings. Us from Soviet Kisch, and Fidelity, Hotel Song and Samson (all from Begin To Hope) formed a stirring finale to a magical evening. Even when forced to stop mid way through the delightful Samson because of a “ghostly” presence on stage, the professionalism and commitment of Regina Spektor gave us a “Samson – part two” which quite possibly comprised the vocal highlight of the concert. Whilst what I saw was not necessarily from the cheap seats, it would not matter from what vantage point this concert was viewed. The performance confirmed yet again the talent Regina Spektor is, and how generously she shares her gift with the world, Melbourne the latest beneficiary.