We all know what Regina Spektor’s making reference to and it’s not really worth dwelling on. Not when the room’s as full of love and good intentions as it is tonight (10 November). Credit should go first of all to this capacity Manchester crowd, rapt in their undivided attention whilst Spektor and her band are playing and rambunctiously effusive in their praise in between. She seems genuinely moved, even if, as she informs the audience early on, “I feel as if I’m singing with a sock in my mouth. I burned myself drinking Earl Grey.”

There was once a time when Spektor would adorn the covers of her albums swigging beer and looking decidedly less than demure and anybody concerned that she has now retreated into subdued, tea-sipping territory will be relieved to know that she burns with a passionate intensity throughout tonight’s show. She’s a peculiar songwriter, given to sharp polish one minute - the straightforward but shimmering likes of “Grand Hotel” and “Obsolete” being cases in point - and happy to indulge experimental whims the next, leading to the almost rap that is “Small Bill$” or an electropop ditty in the form of “Bleeding Heart”.

That all of the aforementioned tracks are plucked from her latest LP, September’s Remember Us to Life, speaks to the ongoing diversity of her output, and that’s something that appears mirrored across her back catalogue in the composition of tonight’s setlist. Spektor spends most of the show at her piano, an instrument she possesses a virtousic mastery of, and yet she covers an awful lot of thematic and sonic ground; “Après Moi” collapses into a furious outro that co-opts Boris Pasternak’s “Black Spring”, “Fidelity” features one of the best-ever musical uses of the glottal stop and both “Death of a Politician” and the scything anti-inequality anthem “The Trapper and the Furrier” speak to Spektor’s socially conscious side - “I hope both of those songs are irrelevant one day.”

She has, in recent years, tended to play the Apollo when she's visited Manchester, a theatre considerably larger than tonight's setting of the Albert Hall. She’s also the sort of artist, owing to the widespread use of her songs in films and on television, who might normally be a knocking bet to attract the kind of casual crowd that's happy to pay attention to the big hitters and not a great deal else. In that respect, the small step down to a more intimate room feels like a masterstroke; the reaction for old favourites “Us” and “Samson”, as well as Orange Is the New Black theme “You’ve Got Time”, is a little noisier than for the rest of the set, but it’s hard to doubt that everybody’s here tonight for the most pure of reasons. They love this woman's songwriting, a Russian immigrant to the United States, moved there by parents who felt she’d have a better chance of making a success of her artistic endeavours away from the oppressive regime she was born into. Tonight, of all nights, that feels like a comfort - a triumph, even.