Before the last Feist gig I attended I worried that with her tremendous success and relentless touring her live show might have lost the magic it had before she soundtracked iPod commercials. Thankfully, I was wrong and the gig was amazing. Sadly, last night’s gig at the Orpheum Theatre (as part of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad) was not quite as special.
Though Feist giddily bounced onto the stage, her set never seemed to take off. After opening with a percussive, guitarless version of I Feel It All, My Moon My Man lacked the power of performances I’ve seen in the past. A decent (though not amazing) new song followed before the set slowed to a crawl. The Limit To Your Love was followed by a slooooow, almost bluesy version of Mushaboom.
It wasn’t good. If you saw another artist doing this version of Mushaboom you’d say they were murdering it. But since it’s her own song I’m sure most people will giver her a pass. Is she bored of playing it? I seldom like it when artists “reimagine” one of their best songs in their live repertoire and this version of Mushaboom was no exception. Say what you will about Radiohead playing Creep but at least when they do play it they play the version the people want to hear not a bleepy-bloop Thom’s Up His Own Arse-version.
So Sorry, another slow one, was next. Then things did finally pick up. A bit. When I Was A Young Girl, one of my favourite “Feist” songs was dark and moody and aggressive. But in the past I’ve seen Feist absolutely destroy her guitar on this one. Last night she did not. Honey Honey (another favourite of mine), however, was delivered perfectly. Unfortunately, Brandy Alexander came next and I’ve never been a big fan of that song.
Up down up down. Things just weren’t clicking for me last night.
Thankfully, the last part of the set was definitely an improvement on the first half. Firstly, a couple more new songs were played and both were excellent. The first (at least I recall it being the first one) I will call “Never Again Will I Let You Go” was one of the finest uses of the four person choir that joined Feist, her bassist, keyboardist, and drummer (who happened to be Mocky). The chorus on this one will blow your mind. And if it doesn’t then it was wrecked in the studio. The other new one, “When You Comfort Me,” was also pretty great. In fact, the two songs were two of the highlights of the entire show. Maybe I’m just tired of The Reminder stuff?
Secondly, Feist, who always makes interesting choices for cover songs, busted out an old folk tune Hard Is The Fortune Of All Womankind. It was a fantastic song with a memorable melody but what really set it off was Joel Gibb’s vocal contrbution. Oh yeah, for some reason The Hidden Camera’s Joel Gibb was in Feist’s little choir last night, singing and dancing throughout the entire set.
The main set ended with Sealion. And while it was great…no electric guitar! Feist, what were you thinking? Last time I saw you play that one you went nuts on the guitar and even tossed in a Cons cover for good measure. No more acoustic Sealion! In fact, if I had to pick one thing that would have improved this show it would be: More electric guitar.
The first encore saw Feist unveil an absolutely gorgeous version of Let It Die. The reverb on the guitar coupled with the natural echo of the room produced magic. The show ended with the inevitable 1234. Feist and Mocky opened the song on recorders before playing the first half the song very slowly, only busting out the version we all know and love for the finale. Still, as many times as you hear that song, it’s a great little song, especially at the end of the set.
But wait…there’s more. A second encore saw Feist sit atop the piano while Gonzales (who also opened the show) took a seat below. Together they played a quiet version of Where Can I Go Without You? It was a lovely little ending but not enough to send me into the streets enthralled with the show.
I can imagine someone seeing Feist for the first time might have been pretty impressed but as someone who has seen her quite a bit over the last five years I was disappointed. And I hate that I feel that way. I love Feist but last night something didn’t connect. Maybe she’s too firmly entrenched in that Between Albums period, maybe it was the Olympics, or maybe it was because she’s been off the road so long, but Feist is capable of being so much better.
I Feel It All
My Moon My Man
“I Was Free Until He Spotted Me”
The Limit To Your Love
When I Was A Young Girl
“Never Again Will I Let You Go”
Hard Is The Fortune Of All Womankind (traditional)*
How My Heart Behaves
Past In Present
Birds Of A Feather**
“When You Comfort Me, It Doesn’t Bring Me Comfort Actually”
Let It Die
Where Can I Go Without You? ***
* Might have been The Wagoner’s Lad, a variation on the same folk tune
** Mocky cover
*** Done by many, notably Nat King Cole and Nina Simone
A few photos from the gig here.
As mentioned, Gonzales opened the show. I didn’t catch his whole set (too busy watching Shaun White slay in the halfpipe which makes me one of “those” people Gonzales called out at the end of his set) but the man seems incredibly talented and pretty funny. But maybe also a little bit crazy? Anyway, what I did see was pretty enjoyable.