Feist @ The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA 11.17.11
Leslie Feist's past few years have all been about taking on challenges. Between skyrocketing fame (and the not-so-nice trappings that come with it), bad breakups and the struggle with her own creative muse, it hasn't necessarily been the smoothest sailing for the 35 year old singer. It makes perfect sense that her next greatest challenge in line would be trying to liven up a nearly comatose Seattle audience on a night where fall finally succumbs to winter.
The audience's state of slumber wasn't any fault of Ms. Feist's; winter tends to be the time when Seattle hibernates. Put a room full of us into semi-comfortable theatre seating, and we're apt to engage with what's in front of us as if it's 1080p HD entertainment. Granted, Feist's new album (Metals) is built to be enjoyed as a slow burn; it's not the effervescent showtune buzz of The Reminder, the slinky crawl of Let It Die or Monarch. It's a breakup, a death, a struggle with purpose and mortality, and an eventual rebirth, and it's meant to be observed in all of those stages.
Backed by a seven piece piece band (a drummer, keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist and choral trio Mountain Man), Feist spent the good portion of two hours giving a veritable clinic on creative exploration. What's amazing about Feist is how in touch and completely in control of her own talents she is; she knows her vocal range and songwriting territory, writing within it while still managing to push toward unknown horizons.
Much like her career, the set seemed to be built with a sense of movement and progression; opening up with "Undiscovered First", the sound started out thin and hollow before bursting into color in the first chorus. During her first non-Metals track of the evening ("Mushaboom"), she reinvented the song, playing it less as a playful romp and more as a dreamy anthem.
The set started out with projections of what seemed to be microscopic views of metallic textures on a giant curtain behind the band, and worked up to live security camera-esque closeups of the band's fingers and instruments, repeating themselves into infinity behind the group. Toward the end of the set, the projections had built themselves into a mesmerizing, swirling cinematography, with one camera spinning in circle slowly above the band, showing a crow's nest view of the stage and all of their equipment. You could almost hear the gear geeks in the crowd whimper.
A huge part of Feist's appeal is her mutli-faceted delivery; at times, she's playing the introverted coffee shop troubadour, minutes later delivering blistering fingerpicked solos on her Les Paul or physically stomping out the loud accent marks in her otherwise quiet songs. At times, the set felt like a church service, with Mountain Man singing downright heavenly harmonic textures beside Feist's rich-on-its-own voice, adding some new colors to an already adequate palette. During the first song of the encore ("Cicadas and Gulls"), Feist came out with merely a guitar and Mountain Man, and the resulting harmonies were simultaneously haunting and inspiring.
Closing out the set by standing on a piano (played by silk robed Chilly Gonzales) and going through stripped down, shimmeringly lounge-y versions of "Limit To Your Love" and Peggy Lee's "Where Can I Go Without You" was like a slightly punk rock Fabulous Baker Boysmoment, leaving the crowd just the right amount of bewildered and breathless.
- Undiscovered First
- How Come You Never Go There
- A Commotion
- The Circle Married The Line
- So Sorry
- Bittersweet Memories
- My Moon My Man
- The Bad In Each Other
- Son & Father (Mountain Man solo)
- Comfort Me
- Caught A Long Wind
- Get It Wrong, Get It Right
- Cicadas and Gulls
- I Feel It All
- Sea Lion Woman
- Let It Die
- -Encore #2
- Limit To Your Love
- Where Can I Go Without You (Peggy Lee cover)