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Canadian singer Feist is most widely known for her song “1234,” a track featured in numerous commercials and feel-good videos. When she took the House of Blues’ stage this Monday however, she stayed away from her popular track, instead delving into other works. She didn’t need a counting song to show why she’s still a child. Instead, she interacted with the crowd all night long to provide an intimate show despite the large-scale size of the venue.
Opening band Timber Timbre started the night off with slow songs meant for dramatic scenes. The blood red lighting cast on stage made their western folk songs seem like bonus tracks for the TV show True Blood or 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Each graze of a metal slide on the dulcimer or thud of the bass drum had an eerie mood that pulled the audience in, waiting for the bad news it seemed to suggest. Featured violin and guitar helped cast their hauntingly beautiful music onto the crowd. Even Leslie Feist would later say “We are properly enchanted by them,” when applauding Timber Timbre’s performance.
Feist then came onstage, waving to the crowd as they started “The Bad In Each Other,” the first track off her most recent album Metals. The instantly recognizable pounding of the drums in the intro followed by her quick finger-plucking of the guitar was, no doubt, epic. Not only was the drummer hammering out the beat, but the multi-instrumentalist and a backup singer were hitting other drums as well. Her backup vocalists crashed tambourines as their sweet voices rang out, refraining from becoming overbearing or useless. Feist backed away from the microphone and yelled the last line, her voice still shooting out into the crowd without help from the microphone.
Her stage presence carried on through the entire set. Feist shook her guitar as she played “How Come You Never Go There,” taking control of the instrument to show it she was in charge. In “Graveyard,” she turned the volume down low to make the emotional anger hidden beneath more visible. The crowd was then called on to sing along, Feist motioning with her hand before screaming the lyrics out once more, a grin on her face as everyone joined.
“Mushaboom” was performed differently than its regular light and innocent version, to the point where it was almost unrecognizable. An electronic and tribal remix occurred with the chorus switching to minor and violins being hit by the ends of their bows instead of dragged across the strings. The whole thing sounded a little threatening and odd. Even as the crowd sang notes, Feist turned her guitar towards the audience like a gun and fanned it from left to right, pulling back, as a barbershop a cappella countdown occurred.
The best part of the Feist’s show was how much she interacted with the crowd. Not only was she dancing on stage, running about to talk to each band member, but she continued to stop between songs to hear what fans were yelling at her. “Well, you’re a lively bunch,” she finally said when someone yelled out for Charles Spearin, one of her touring members who is also a member of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think. Both she and he were taken aback by the direct shout-out for a backup member. Soon the whole crowd started to yell out his name and Feist cracked up before chanting “Speech! Speech!” into her microphone (to which he responded with a wave).
“I had the best memories at The Middle East,” she half-sang when talking about her love for Boston. A smile spread on her face as she turned it into a song. “I even think I played a show at some place called T.T. the Bears” she sang. “Why is Cambridge not Boston? A river separates it? Can all of you people live on this side of the Charles River sing ‘Ah’. How many people live on that side of the river?” With a sip of her white wine, she then got everyone to continue holding their note as she went into “So Sorry” and “The Circle Married the Line”.
Feist continued to explore dynamics the rest of the evening, bouncing between extremely quiet tracks and heavier, louder ones. No matter if she were playing “I Feel It All,” “My Moon My Man,” or “Comfort Me,” she brought herself into the song and allowed the whole audience to see it from the inside looking out, too.
She ended the night with an encore of “The Limit to Your Love,” “Sealion,” and “Let It Die”. As she jokingly swatted her hand up and down like she was rapping, it was clear she has never let fame get to her head. Instead, she raised her glass to Boston’s crowd as a thank you. Soul and charm were brought to every song, a little riff of rock often slipping out before returning to the magical feeling she cast over the crowd.
Leslie Feist is a young child exploring the world of music through an adult body. Even then, it’s unfair to say she’s trapped, for its more like she’s embracing her outlook and challenging herself to continue being fun and dorky. The 36 year-old singer seems to have her personality split: her energy and attitude was that of a six year-old, her talent and importance that of a thirty year-old. But no matter how you do the math, her show was undoubtedly more than one hundred percent extraordinary.