The first announced show at St. Paul’s newly renovated Palace Theatre, singer/songwriter Regina Spektor, turned out to actually be the fifth show in the new venue. And it was the first “quiet” show where any flaws in the acoustics of the building would come to light. As I arrived 30+ minutes before showtime I was greeted by long lines of fans. It seemed that not having an opener was revealing a bottleneck in The Palace’s design. Observing the line I think lessons could be learned on both sides. I saw a lot of last minute fumbling for IDs and tickets slowing down staff. On the other hand, maybe having staff get ID checks out of the way before patrons get to the door would help. Knowing the dedication of The Palace’s staff, I don’t think we’ll see a repeat. Fortunately Spektor delayed her start to allow everyone into the venue and took the stage just after 8 PM.
It was clear that her show focuses on her music. Photographers were told to put their camera on quiet mode and not to shoot bursts. No problem, as Spektor was not doing any jumps or headbanding. Lights focused on her seated at her piano with her band almost hidden in the background. She opened with her breakout single “On the Radio” followed by a couple “Grand Hotel” and “Older and Taller” all songs that have been getting a good amount of airplay. That pulled in any casual fans in the crowd and from there she took them on a deep dive of her work.
She sounded great from the pit and even better when I was up in the balcony a few songs later. There was a certain warmth to the sound that I associate with old venues that I hoped the Palace would have. Her voice delivered an impressive range of style from clean and light, to rocking in a couple of songs. There was not much chit-chat between numbers but it was clear, she was having a great time performing. She broked out in spontanious smiles that rivaled the stage lights. Lights were great, with changes perfectly timed to match the mood of her songs.
“Ballad of a Politician” probably got the strongest crowd reaction. She gave a passionate intro reflecting on having come to the US as a refuge herself when she was 9 years old. I caught a snippet of an interview she gave The Current earlier in the day and something she said in it stuck with me. “There is a difference in how a Puppy that is raised in a family loves their family and how one that has been rescued from a pound loves their family. That’s the love I feel for this country”. As an immigrant myself, I fully agree with her.
Overall, I would call the night a great way to close out Sunday. And about the lines? Let me leave you with the most Minnesotan of wisdoms: “It could be worse, it could be snowing”