Regina Spektor‘s fifth studio album Far was met with enough commercial and critical success to warrant her first ever live album. Consisting of 22 tracks that span four of the singer-songwriter’s albums (as well as three new songs and a song she wrote for the soundtrack to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian), Live in London serves, by all accounts, as a fair approximation of Spektor’s acclaimed live show.
Spektor’s idiosyncratic lyrics, inimitably weird voice, and quirky charm that’s grown to become inseparable from her music are often cited as her best, most memorable qualities and it’s these that shine through most clearly on Live in London. Indeed, these qualities go a long way in setting Spektor apart from the rest of the pack of female singer-songwriters that permeate today’s airwaves.
Live in London‘s setlist is heavy on fan-favorites; a fact that’s audible in their raucous applause and cheering before and after almost every song. However, the live versions of most of Live in London‘s songs stray very little from their original source material and when they do, it’s often only slightly, as Spektor allows her unconventional voice to get the best of itself. Even the onstage banter that she’s come to be a bit notorious for is almost completely absent from the live recording.
But it’s not all bad. Aside from showcasing Spektor’s vocal indulgences, many of the tracks, notably her older songs (many of whom are spare piano/guitar ballads), benefit from the addition of rich accompaniment from a string quartet. The dizzying heights reached on “Ode to Divorce”, for instance, are breathtaking. Spektor also leaves much to look forward to on her yet-to-be-named upcoming LP, displaying that her knack for clever songwriting is as intact as ever on Live in London‘s final track “Love, You’re A Whore”, one of three songs Spektor opted to preview for fans from her upcoming sixth album.
All in all, Live in London makes for a solid greatest-hits and introduction to Regina Spektor’s catalog. Truly, some of the best moments on the LP are her two biggest hits: “On the Radio” and “Fidelity”, both of which are rendered just as indelibly, if not more so, than they were in their original studio form.