The thought receptacle

Stephen's mental dustbin

Fri, 23 Jul 2010

Spektral visions

She had been on stage barely seconds before the first cry of “I love you!” rang out from the audience, followed in a split second by an even louder “I love you more!”. It's quite impressive just how much the kids love Regina. For once, they're not wrong. I've found her records patchy (at least, the two of them that I've heard) but nevertheless sprinkled with enough great moments to make them worth listening to. For me, the negatives are usually some sort of self-indulgent whimsy and, on more recent records, an offputting slickness of production, especially when laid over the occasional thuddingly ill-judged song.

Yesterday's live set had none of the negatives; only great songs and fabulous performances. Even the opener Better, a tune from Begin To Hope which for me is one of the more gripe-inducing ones, managed to get me on side, with its great drum build-up and Regina's voice free from the annoying over-processed sound on the record. In fact it had never sounded better... as usual, the sound at the Corn Exchange was top-notch, and I was quite awed by Regina's voice for the whole night---it's a remarkable instrument which she seems to have complete control over. In other words, when she weirds things up you can be sure she's doing it deliberately.

The new songs I mostly didn't know, because I still haven't got round to buying the “new” record (I think it came out about a year ago), but they were consistently great enough that I became quite convinced that I needed to make the purchase. There's a great sense of drama to her performances, and the new material seems to play to that strength particularly well---there's amazing almost operatic feel in the more epic moments. The trade-off seems to be less whimsy, but I can live with that (though losing it completely would be a shame!). Owing to personal bias, I'm also always very impressed with performers who can play nontrivial piano parts while also singing superbly, and Regina can certainly do that. (Tim Minchin is another performer whose amazing talent in this department has been witnessed in the Corn Exchange in recent memory... clang goes the name.)

It was nice to hear Summer In The City, one of my favourites from the Begin to Hope record (I kept thinking it was the closer on Soviet Kitsch, but that's Somedays), and the popular duo of Samson and then Fidelity closed things off. There was no encore and essentially zero banter the whole night, which made more sense right at the end when Regina made a quiet and arrestingly heartfelt statement about her cellist Dan Cho, notable by his absence on stage because he died tragically a couple of weeks ago earlier on the tour. Rarely has such an excellent show been concluded with such a stunned and sad crowd leaving the venue.

It was still a great evening of music, although trust me to come up with a negative: a more peculiar-to-me dampener on the evening is the unfortunate fact that my affinity for any artist is limited by their popularity. Although I make efforts to be easy-going, at heart I am quite an irritable person, at least in that the presence of strangers can easily make me uncomfortable. I'm fairly sure this property doesn't hold for all musical performances, but certainly in Regina's case I suffer from a very unsociable gut reaction, which tells me that the specialness of a moment needs to be divided by the number of others it's shared with. My uncontrollably grumpy alter ego can't help but look for excuses by which to distance myself from those around me, and there was no shortage of petty irritations that I managed to abuse for this purpose: the two annoying swaying couples in front who kept obscuring my view, or the occasional singer-along behind me, and so on. I wish I wasn't such a misery guts, but I did really enjoy the show---honestly.

[/all] permanent link


Powered by blosxom

validate this page