By Hayley Bannon
Facebook reminded me that the last time I saw Regina Spektor play in Scotland it was 2014 at the O2 Academy. The set list has been blacked out from my memory mostly because I was cooking like a rotisserie chicken and dying for the gig to be over so I could remind myself what fresh air tasted like.
However, I imagine it was the same spunky play list she played at the Edinburgh Playhouse during the Fringe Festival on August 3.
The last time this reporter saw Regina, it was a politically intense time, with Donald Trump being announced president on the same night as her gig at The Sage in Newcastle. Although she sang the same Begin to Hope numbers on August 3, as she did in November, there was an obvious political undertone.
By opening her gig with a rebellious recital of the 1883 Emily Lazerus poem ‘The New Colossus’, a poem about Jewish refugees arriving in the land of opportunity — now cemented on a bronze plaque inside Lady Liberty, it felt like this gig was going to be more of the same.
However, she surprised the audience with upbeat songs from her 2009 album Far including ‘The Calculation’ and ‘Folding Chair’ — to which my husband begged me not to join in with the dolphin noises.
Regina’s 2016 album Remember Us To Life is permanently in our car’s CD player, which means that when we don’t have Bluetooth plugged in, my husband has had no choice but to convert to Ms Spektor’s dulcet tones. I enjoyed hearing the successful ‘Bleeding Heart’, the rapping of ‘Small Bill$’, the chirpy ‘Older and Taller’, and our shared love of the mellow ‘Seller of Flowers’.
My heart leapt when she brought out her turquoise blue guitar – which I hadn’t seen since 2014 – and I tugged my husband’s shirt whispering excitedly, ‘she’s going to play it! She’s going to play it!’
Ms Spektor kept me on my toes as she began playing ‘Bobbing for Apples’, a song exclusively released on her 2010 Live in London album, but she followed through electrifying opening chords of Begin to Hope song ‘That Time’.
The night was rounded off with an explosive rendition of ‘You’ve Got Time’, the song to the opening credits of Netflix favourite Orange is the New Black, which was complete with a dazzling light show.
Gigs in other parts of the country were treated to ‘The Call’ which featured on the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe soundtrack, and it would have been lovely to hear her Beatles cover of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, the song at the end of 2016 hit film Kubo and the Two Strings.
Just like her gig at Newcastle’s The Sage, Regina received a standing ovation from her audience, proof that whether she is playing under a tense political climate, or just letting her hair down and having fun, Ms Spektor will always receive a warm and appreciative reception.