New York's queen of quirk captivates as piano pop strikes a resonant chord
Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
THE Opera House Concert Hall has hosted bigger names than Regina Spektor, many of whom have, for whatever reason, disappointed.
At the first of two shows at the hallowed venue (after a reportedly triumphant Saturday night at the Enmore Theatre), the New York City singer-songwriter shone brighter than those underperformers, mainly because the place couldn't suit her style and talents more.
Compelling presence ... Regina Spektor's stories can be cute or melancholic.
She is the kind of performer who built her career playing hipster bars in the East Village and she is distinguished by an unusual but attractive voice that likes to dart about its range, a love of Steinway grand pianos and, it quickly becomes clear, the smarts to make the most out of her environment.
When the whoops and applause that herald her arrival die down to reverential silence, she taps out a pulse on her microphone to opener Ain't No Cover as she sings along, otherwise unaccompanied, to cool and classy effect.
Later, when she is at the piano exquisitely performing Small Town Moon - by this point occasionally backed by a minimal troupe comprising a keyboard player, a drummer and a cellist - Spektor's foot stomps provide extra percussion.
While these are effects she probably does everywhere, they seem to work especially well here, not to mention that this night's piece de resistance is one she can do only in special rooms such as this.
Disappearing from view to start her encore, Spektor plays The Sword & the Pen on the keys and pedals of the concert hall's massive grand organ, which is behind her backdrop, even milking some comedy out of mistakes she makes along the way.
(''This [part] is hard because I have to do it with my foot,'' she notes during one self-imposed interruption.)
Yet, even without all the tricks and gimmicks, she is a compelling presence, telling her often cute, sometimes melancholic stories through pretty songs from fan favourites Blue Lips and the synth-driven Dance Anthem of the 80s to the closest things she has to hits: Us, with its heart-swelling romance, and the perky, quirky Fidelity.
Basically, Spektor proves to be exactly the kind of modern music act the Opera House should be hosting - so, as you might put it to its more traditional performers, bravo all around.