Story & Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Kansas City concert goers were treated to an intimate set Sunday night at the Uptown Theater, as singer-songwriter Regina Spektor came to town as part of her solo tour. The diminutive singer was a force to be reckoned with as she sat behind her piano battling a cold and put on a show the dold out crowd won’t soon forget.
Spektor has quite the cult following, with her biggest hit being the theme song to Netflix’ “Orange is the New Black” titled “You’ve Got Time.” Yet it’s her knack for quirky songwriter and powerful voice that give her the credos to hold such reverent stages as Kansas City’s Uptown.
While her subject matter moves from humor to serious, her skill behind the piano displays her versatility as a pianist as her song selection shifts from rock to jazz to classical. The combination of her vocals and subject matter produce an in-depth display of why she has become a go-to icon for listeners going through their everyday lives and deal with issues simple or complex.
As she moved through her setlist, she received a raucous ovation for “Bobbing for Apples” even as she repeated the line “someone next door’s fucking to one of my songs” at the song’s close. She got another reaction for broaching politics before singing “Ballad of a Politician.” She said she was angry, and “not because of the steroids” (to combat her cold) but because “our country is being hijacked by fucking maniacs” and made reference to children in surgeries at risk of deportation. As she played through the song, the lighting set the tone to her voice as red and blue lights shone brighter through the smoke filled stage.
Throughout her set, Spektor took time to blow her nose and drink plenty of water. She explained she was battling an illness and had asked the crowd at a previous city if they thought she would ever get better. During those moments, the Kansas City faithful consistently shouted “Thanks for playing anyway!” and “We love you!” which led to some intimate moments of Spektor thanking the crowd and being embarrassed as she turned away from the microphone to blow her nose.
Despite feeling poorly, or at least still battling a cold, Spektor’s voice took on a form of its own throughout the night. She put her huge vocal range and falsetto extension on full display as fans received delivery that was husky and bold at times to ethereal and transcending – along with some of Spektor’s traditional beatboxing and buzzing.
As Spektor ended her set, she got her first standing ovation of the night as fans cheered for an encore. She returned to the stage with husband Jack Dishel who donned a guitar for a song and beatboxed another – adding flare to a night that seemed more like Spektor setup in her living room and playing to well-known guests rather than visiting a city far from home and playing to a room full of 1700 strangers.