Feist @ Forum Theatre

I haven’t been to many live gigs at all this year, either because of financial reasons or the lack of interest in tours on offer. I suspect I’m entering an age where it becomes increasingly harder for new artists and bands to really click with me to the degree where I’d pay money to see them play live. At least I’m closing the year in style with this fantastic concert last Friday at the Forum Theatre, where I got to see the Canadian songbird extraordinaire, Leslie Feist a.k.a. simply Feist.

I had a dreadful night of sleep on Friday, so during the day I plied myself with strong coffee, hoping that I’d manage to last through the night without crashing. The evening didn’t start so well when I realised that the small piece of white paper fluttering outside my car window was a parking infringement notice. I put it out of my mind and made my way to the Forum Theatre, where I got a surprise: since I’ve been there last they got rid of the sitting benches at the back and now it’s just another standing area for people who’d rather be close to the bar. I was a bit bummed about that, I could think of a few past Forum gigs when I was grateful to have a seat.

There was no opening act, which was fine by me, and though the show was meant to start at around 8.30 it wasn’t until way past 9 that Feist and her band made it onstage. I once missed out on her set at the Laneway Festival because of schedule conflict, but from the last five minutes or so I did manage to see I got an impression that she’d be a good performer to watch up close. So I staked out a spot in the second row from the stage. The only downside of my position was a hissing amp to my left which I managed to ignore for most of the time, but at other moments it was like I brought my white noise sleeping machine to the concert.

Feist was indeed a wonderful live act, just as vibrant and irrepressible as the bright yellow dress she wore for the night, engaging in warm and charmingly quirky banter in between the songs and inviting singalongs. At one moment she pointed at her own giant shadow cast on the opposite wall of the theatre, remarking that it’s been singing to her for the last fifteen years, like a phantom of her past. I don’t actually find crowd interaction an absolute must at gigs, but it’s definitely a pleasure to watch someone who’s naturally good at it. She alternated between acoustic and electric guitars, and sometimes made use of the loop pedal, building up layers with the recorded bits of vocals. She’s a fantastic live singer too.

As I had expected, they opened the show with Pleasure, the punchiest song from Feist’s latest album, which naturally got the most play alongside the picks from the older records, including The Bad in Each Other from Metals which was probably the highlight of the night for me, I just love that stompy folk-blues tune. As the show drew to an end, I began to wonder if Let It Die, Feist’s earlier album, would get any love at all since its smooth torch song style doesn’t really go with the later material, but then we were graced with the gorgeous renditions of Mushaboom and the album’s namesake track. I’d still say that Let It Die is the best showcase of her beautiful voice, though it’s not my overall favourite album of hers. Of course the show couldn’t close without 1234, Feist’s big crossover hit, which she played as a slower and more melancholic version, saying that the meaning of the song is different for her now as opposed to ten years ago.

It was great to be at the good old Forum Theatre again, but I admit I’m super jealous of the Sydney concertgoers who got to see Feist at the Sydney Opera House.

P.S. Yay I got to take a concert photo that’s not completely awful and out of focus!

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