Regina Spektor’s Summer in the City: In the broadest sense, both Regina Spektor and Aimee Mann are often described as singer/songwriters. Those words, when put together, are usually considered a genre but they’re not really. There are a lot of singers who write songs but aren’t considered singer/songwriters. It’s all a bit of a nonsense.
That said, both Mann and Spektor are fabulous. And they put on very different shows. Mann has a full band, and in general she keeps the between-song banter to a minimum. Spektor is on the stage alone, switching between the piano, keyboard, and, at a couple of points, nothing but the mike stand. It’s the differences that make both sets wonderful.
Aimee Mann‘s debut solo album, Whatever, was released 30 years ago, in 1993. For a decade before that of course, she fronted Boston new wave band ‘Til Tuesday, scoring a hit with “Voices Carry.” There’s none of that for Mann nowadays, and there’s really no need. Her solo albums, of which there are now 10 with 2021’s Queens of the Summer Hotel the most recent, never let her fans down.
At the Greek Theatre, Mann doesn’t play anything from her first two solo albums, and she only plays one (“Save Me”) from her third. One from Lost in Space. The bulk of the set is pulled from her latest two albums, Queens… and Mental Health. Meanwhile, she plays three from 2005’s The Forgotten Arm.
Throughout it all, the Greek crowd repeatedly declared its love for Mann, and Mann dryly thanked everyone with a wry smile. Her humility and mild bemusement is sweet, and her performance is brimming with expertly written songs and honest observations.
Regina Spektor can’t help but gush about Aimee Mann early in her set, but not before she opened with “Ain’t No Cover” from 2005’s Live at Bull Moose” EP. She performs the song a cappella, tapping out a beat with her fingers on the mic, then goes straight into “Summer in the City” from 2006’s Begin to Hope album.
The set that follows was a career spanner. Alright, there was no “You’ve got Time” from Orange is the New Black. But it didn’t matter — every song that she did play was perfect, and her delightful charm between songs, her joyful introductions, were every bit as good.
Before “Ballad of a Politician,” she said (paraphrasing), “Aren’t we lucky that the very best people choose to go into politics? Imagine what it would be like if that wasn’t the case.” That dry wit delighted the Greek crowd.
She described “Reginasaurus” as “my most narcissistic song” and then laughed when someone in the crowd yelled, “You’re in L.A.”) And she told stories of opening for the Strokes in this city as a wide-eyed young musician, and being put up in penthouse suites by label execs.
All the while, songs like “Eet” and “What Might Have Been” raise the hairs on just about everyone in attendance. Spektor told us that, to calm her nerves before the show, she decided to pretend that the Greek is just a fancy person’s backyard. This was one hell of a backyard party.
For more info, visit lagreektheatre.com.
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