Feist at the Commodore Ballroom, 10/2/17
It is difficult to review Canadian sweetheart Leslie Feist without gushing too much. Quite simply, the musician is phenomenally talented—something that is evident from her five albums, four Grammy nominations, 11 Juno wins and loyal fan-base. Members of that fan-base showed up in droves to not one, but two packed nights of Feist: Sunday (Oct. 1) at the Vogue Theatre and Monday (Oct. 2) at the Commodore Ballroom. Some even went on both nights. “Can I just wave a magnet over the minds of the people that were at the Vogue last night?” said Feist to the Commodore audience. Frankly, the singer—who sported shoulder-length hair, a silver skirt and a dusty pink crop top—did so much unique add-libbing, impromptu lyricism and banter that there is no way she was duplicating much from the night before, apart from the setlist.
The 41 year old Nova Scotia-born singer’s album style is often soft and dreamy, which is what makes listening to every one of the five records a stunning and creative experience. But the songs of Feist recent release, Pleasure, have an electric life on the stage—one that they do not entirely have in the understated setting of the record. From the opening song “Pleasure”, to the sing-along favourite “Any Party” to “I’m Not Running Away”, these songs have never sounded so good. Feist was backed by a great band, but her stellar guitar playing knocked everyone else onstage out of the water. With impressive looping and the vocal ticks that have become trademark to her particular sound, Feist’s onstage style was spontaneous and playful. The artist oozed natural appeal and plenty of precocious behaviour, and—impressively—played all 11 Pleasure tracks in order for the first portion of the evening.
After “A Man Is Not His Song”, to the utter delight of the audience, the singer pulled out her cellphone right onstage and called sometimes-bandmate Kevin Drew of the Canadian rock musical collective Broken Social Scene at his hotel room in Philadelphia. The group is set to play the Commodore October 20th and 21st, and Feist is certainly leaving a hole in their tour: “Wherever I go you’re in my heart. You’re with me at every show”, said Drew to Feist. And to the Commodore crowd he said, “This woman in front of you creates moments. She is the soundtrack to all our lives”.
Create moments she did. The second portion of the set was “the past”—11 selections from Let It Die, The Reminder and Metals. There are so many gems in Feist’s discography that she could have played well past midnight without boring the crowd, but concertgoers were treated to favourites like “My Moon My Man”, “Sea Lion Woman”, “The Bad in Each Other” and “I Feel It All”. The absence of some key beautiful tracks from Metals was evident, but seeing how much fun Feist was having changing lyrics and adding new riffs to old favourites was endearing. Her vibrant energy, unique voice, personal poetics and loud-and-proud guitar playing made the Commodore dance floor impossible to leave.
“Vancouver loves you!” shouted a concertgoer. “I’d say the feeling is mutual!” replied Feist. An encore was not requested but rather demanded, resulting in a gushing Feist exclaiming “This is fun!” Classic favourite “Mushaboom” was a sound choice and had the audience swaying, singing loudly and clinging to each other. A completely changed version of “1234” followed—the heavily commercialized song that Feist has had a difficult relationship with and avoided playing in the past. But one encore was not enough, and the call for a second was thundering and exuberant. Feist took the stage once more, solo, and asked the audience for requests, which they eagerly shouted out. She was surprised to hear someone call for “Simple Heart”—a delightful track from her Let It Die days—and as she played it the audience helped her with a few forgotten lyrics. Finally, the artist finished with “Gatekeeper” from that same album.
It was hard to see Feist walk off that stage for good, after what was undoubtedly one of the best performances Vancouver has seen all year.