By Stephanie D - Twee Time - 04/08/2006

She is a vision of beauty: a young woman surrounded by Matryoshka dolls, a hot chick who drinks wine straight from the bottle. A sly smile is always planted upon her angelic face, radiating from her mouth and eyes. Regina, Regina ah ah ah. The Russian goddess with a Bronx edge.

The music from Regina Spektor's show at the Cabaret Music Hall on April 8th is still running though my head, and the experience is difficult to express in words since her talent is truly awe-inspiring and has left me speaking in tongues. I suspect Ms. Spektor knows something we do not, and some of this wisdom is revealed to us through her epic tales about white-collar slaves, lonely women, sailors, sinners and everyday people.

Regina Spektor has been compared to many female performers in the past, such as Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and upon their first listen of Soviet Kitsch, some say her voice is reminiscent of Bjork; but it is at a live performance where those who are not all-too-familiar with Regina's work can really hear how distinctive her voice is, and how original and edgy her style of music.

This was Ms. Spektor's first performance of her mini-tour to promote the new album Begin To Hope (produced by David Kahne), soon to be released on Sire Records June 13th. There were many cheers as Regina coyly walked on stage, paused shyly and smiled, obviously humbled by the packed venue. Who could even imagine an angel would be humbled by lowly humans? I must admit I'm still smitten recalling the solitary sight of Regina Spektor on stage. The audience quieted, immediately captivated when Regina tapped beats on the microphone and began singing a cappella.

What followed was the main set of 16 songs (and one encore set of two) on the piano and guitar, a varied mixture of old tracks from Soviet Kitsch (2004) and Songs (2002), and new music from her upcoming release. She performed the popular favourites "Samson," "Ghost of Corporate Future" and "Us," but it was "Poor Little Rich Boy" that was a real pleasure to experience. Regina played the Steinway piano with one hand, and used the other to tap rhythms on a chair with a drum stick while the stage provided the bass drum. The most beautiful of the new songs was the single "Better," released first on Regina's MySpace page, which definitely brought out the chills and goose bumps. Regina's naivete, her use of the high, middle and low registers of her voice, and the way in which she incorporates the New York beatbox style to create vocal percussion, melodies and rhythms in her music definitely enriched her performance and pleased the crowd.

Many concert-goers commented that they were so entrenched in the performance that they forgot where they were. The show ended as it began after one encore. Regina received the final applause in her unique way, and curtsied before graciously disappearing into the dark stage left.

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