Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, on tour for her latest album, “Remember Us to Life,” played to a sold-out crowd on Thursday night at Portland’s State Theatre.

After taking the stage to an ebullient reception, Spektor sat at her Steinway grand piano and opened the 100-minute show with “On the Radio” from her 2006 album “Begin to Hope,” backed by drums, keys and a cello. With a striking voice as clear as a bell and the quirky, unfeigned lyrics that have made her famous, Spektor performed songs from most of her albums.

Next came “Grand Hotel,” from the “Remember” album, with dark lyrics housed in a gorgeous, heartfelt song: “Under the floorboards there’s a deep well/ That leads to a spring that sprung up in hell/ That’s where the old devils danced and kissed/ And made their blood pacts in the ancient myths.” This is exactly the thing that sets Spektor apart. She’s a poet who tells stories with her songs and sings them with a voice that can bring tears to your eyes. Many of her songs are like embraces that don’t want to let go, whether she’s singing about love in “Fidelity” or opulence in “Small Bill$.”

Spektor was all smiles all night and on more than one occasion showed us how humble she is. “Every time you start clapping really loud, I turn around to see who’s here,” she said between songs.

Spektor’s first visit to Portland was in 2005, when she opened for The Dresden Dolls at Space Gallery. She returned as headliner at the State Theatre in fall 2012 for her “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” tour. Spektor also performed at the Scarborough Bull Moose store in 2005 as part of Record Store Day and an EP of that five-song performance is part of her discography.

At Thursday’s concert, Spektor once again laid herself bare through songs like “Black and White” from the latest album: “All my love/ In black and white/ On this faded photography/Sad sad eyes.” The song is a true heartbreaker that brought the house down as Spektor sang with a level of passion that seemed to come from deep within her while making it look easy. Same goes for her piano playing – fiery, elegant, raging like a storm and gentle as a brook, depending on the song, and sometimes hitting all of these within the same one.


The crowd reached another fever pitch when Spektor launched into “You’ve Got Time,” which is the theme song from “Orange Is the New Black.” The show’s creator, Jenji Kohan, personally asked Spektor to write the theme. Several happy fans were screaming along to the repeated line “And you’ve got time.”

Spektor had only two complaints all night. The first one was to scold herself for eating too much food before the show, because “Portland is one of the most delicious cities in the world.”

She also asked people to keep it down during the show, with a gentle reminder to those talking that their friends might want to hear the song better. That’s a problem with general admission shows, especially in the front half of the house at the State Theatre. A seated show would have lent itself to a more immersive listening experience, especially during slower tunes, but this is no reflection on Spektor, who was gracious and delivered a stunning performance.

Spektor closed out the show solo on her piano with “Samson” from “Begin to Hope.” The crowd swooned and rightfully so, and Spektor’s voice filled every corner of the theater: “You are my sweetest downfall/ I loved you first, I loved you first/ Beneath the stars came fallin’ on our heads/ But they’re just old light, they’re just old light.”

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: Aimsel

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