A decade after releasing her first studio album, and mere months after her sixth studio album bowed at No. 3 on the album chart, one could certainly argue that Regina Spektor is at the pinnacle of her powers. Not only did the Moscow-born, Bronx-bred singer-songwriter have her fans screaming in the aisles before her backing band played a single note Tuesday night at the Greek Theater, but she also exuded confidence, charisma and impressive vocal prowess throughout her nearly two-hour set.
Known for her eclectic piano-pop ballads, Spektor fearlessly opened her sold-out show with the a cappella number, “This Ain’t No Cover” — an ironic title for a tune that sounds like it could have been written by a 1940s crooner. Her stripped-down delivery set the stage for an intimate evening overflowing with mutual admiration between Spektor and her fans.
Throughout the night, Spektor ran through tunes spanning her career backed by a four-piece, all-male band that included producer Mike Elizondo (best known for his work with Spektor, Dr. Dre and Eminem) on bass. Dressed demurely in a floral black dress, Spektor seemed completely at ease pounding on her grand piano. It was hard not to draw comparisons to Tori Amos, another bold piano-prodigy songstress who has graced the same stage on countless occasions and helped pave the way for such challenging female artists as Spektor and St. Vincent.
Spektor’s gift for tackling weighty subjects with a good dose of humor was evident on numerous tunes, including “Marcello,” a song from her most recent album, “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats,” which is often criticized for her use of a faux-Italian accent. Truth is, it’s a poignant narrative about the Mafia that’s brimming with pathos. Although it’s not the album’s strongest tune — with that honor going to “All the Rowboats,” a rollicking number with climactic pianos and synths that imagines rowboats imprisoned in oil paintings rowing away to escape their mundane museum existence.
Spektor was joined by her husband (and opening act) Jack Dishel, known as Only Son, midway through her set for the charming acoustic duet “Call Them Brothers.” She continued on to deliver the darkly dramatic “Apres Mois,” showcasing her classical training and Russian heritage with lyrics sung in her native tongue, as well as “Ballad of a Politician,” a scathing satire of baby-smooching politicians, hand-shaking on which she chants, “Work it, work it baby/Work your way around that room.”
Concluding the evening with “The Party,” Spektor returned for an encore of crowd-pleasers including “Fidelity” and “Samson.”