Taylor Swift’s sold-out residency at SoFi Stadium is over, but that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is short on fantastic female singer-songwriters to see live. The Greek Theatre certainly wasn’t lacking in that department when, on a crisp Thursday night in August, Regina Spektor and Aimee Mann landed in the hills above Los Feliz for a dynamic double bill.
The two iconic artists had been on sojourns of their own, but wound up joining forces for dates at the Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA and the Greek in L.A.
Mann began the evening with a sharp yet understated 50-minute set that focused mostly on music she’s released since the turn of the millennium. Her 2017 album, Mental Illness, featured most prominently, with four songs—“Lies Of Summer”, “You Never Loved Me”, “Patient Zero”, and “Rollercoasters”—making the cut. Her 2005 LP, The Forgotten Arm, got plenty of run as well between “Little Bombs”, “I Can’t Help You Anymore”, and “King Of The Jailhouse”.
Since Mann had been touring in support of Queens of the Summer Hotel, it was only right that she gave voice to her latest release from 2021. To that end, the 62-year-old looped in “Burn It Out” and “Suicide Is Murder”, the latter of which she originally wrote for a musical stage production of Girl, Interrupted.
Among all those thought-provoking songs—as well as “Can’t You Tell? (30 Days, 30 Songs)” and “The Moth”, the latter of which was featured in the hit TV show Mr. Robot—Mann made sure to drop in “Save Me”, the iconic song from the 1999 Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia that earned her both Grammy and Oscar nominations.
Following Mann’s sleek, stoic, band-backed set, Regina Spektor offered a refreshing contrast in personal and musical style. For nearly two hours, the Russian-born, New York City-bred performer stood (and sat) alone in the spotlight, with nothing but a piano, a keyboard, and a guitar (which went unused) to accompany her—not that she needed any human help. Ever the bundle of unbridled charisma, she exuded pure emotion and personality from the moment she stepped onto the stage—which was ten minutes before the scheduled start time—until the Greek Theatre’s 11 p.m. curfew forced her to take her final bow.
This performance, like the tour as a whole, was intended largely as a showcase of Spektor’s 2022 album, Home, Before and After. To that end, she offered up a handful of her signature quirky yet heartfelt songs from that record on piano, including “Becoming All Alone”, “Loveology”, “What Might Have Been”, and “Spacetime Fairytale”.
The show also came shortly after the announcement that Soviet Kitsch, the 2003 album that first put Spektor on the map, would soon be re-pressed on vinyl. To celebrate that record’s 20th anniversary, the 43-year-old treated the audience to a rendition of “Poor Little Rich Boy” that saw her drumming on a chair with her right hand while playing keyboard with her left, followed by “Somedays” on her Steinway & Sons grand piano.
Along the way, she shared stories of her early days opening for The Strokes and getting wined and dined by the music industry as a lead-in to “Grand Hotel”, ragged on the industry of politics as she dove into “Ballad of a Politician”, joked about being “hypnotized” into frequently forgetting the words to “Eet” by the track’s own lyrics, and riffed on her love of homework and her need to come up with more “non-bummer summer songs.”
There were fun romps like “Folding Chair” and “One More Time With Feeling”, brilliant ballads like “How”, and a collection of deep cuts performed a cappella—from the opening “Ain’t No Cover” to a Billie Holiday-infused version of her cover of Channing Pollock’s “My Man” from Boardwalk Empire during the encore, plus “Reginasaurus” in between.
Most noteworthy of all, though, was the extent to which Spektor recited 2006’s Begin to Hope. For all the marvelous music that she has collected in her catalog during her 20 years in the spotlight, she still shows the most favor to unforgettable, defining forays like “Summer in the City”, “Better”, and “Us”. She dedicated “Apres Moi” to a “peaceful end” to the war in Ukraine, used “On The Radio” to support Hollywood’s striking writers and actors, and closed out the main set with “Fidelity” before capping off the show with an encore featuring the sweet sounds of “Samson”.
While Aimee Mann marked the end of her tour in L.A., Regina Spektor continues on with a performance for a hometown crowd at Central Park in New York City.
The City of Angels, on the other hand, can thank both artists for strengthening and expanding the range of female perspectives in song, with plenty more to come before summer’s end.
Aimee Mann – “Lies Of Summer” – 8/10/23
Aimee Mann – “Save Me” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “Summer In The City” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “How” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “Eet” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “Us” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “On The Radio” – 8/10/23
Regina Spektor – “Samson” – 8/10/23
[Video: HYJYNX Productions, Ltd.]
Setlist: Aimee Mann | Greek Theatre | Los Angeles, CA | 8/10/23
Set: Lies of Summer, You Fall, You Never Loved Me, Patient Zero, Rollercoasters, The Moth, Burn It Out, Little Bombs, Suicide Is Murder, Save Me, I Can’t Help You Anymore, King of the Jailhouse
Setlist: Regina Spektor | Greek Theatre | Los Angeles, CA | 8/10/23
Set: Ain’t No Cover, Summer in the City, Folding Chair, Becoming All Alone, Loveology, Baby Jesus, How, Eet, Reginasaurus, Better, Ballad of a Politician, Poor Little Rich Boy, Somedays, Grand Hotel, Apres Moi, What Might Have Been, Spacetime Fairytale, One More Time With Feeling, Us, On the Radio, Fidelity, My Man (Channing Pollock), Samson