|Feist played Toronto's Massey Hall Dec. 1. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)
Don’t let Feist’s latest melancholy, experimental alt-folk album, Metals - seemingly a reaction to the huge success of 2007’s Grammy nominated The Reminder and its uber pop hit 1-2-3-4, - fool you.
In concert on Thursday night in front of a hometown crowd at Massey Hall, her exquisite, hypnotic voice, aided by three-woman Vermont vocal group, Mountain Man, along with her engaging, effortless charm, playfulness and quick wit, brought all of the new songs alive and improved the older ones.
She claimed to have “hometown jitters,” but if she did, they never really showed.
Feist, 35, is not nothing if inclusive as she continually encouraged the audience to sing along, and dance too, all night long.
“We’re going to bust sh-t up now okay?,” she said after opening the two-hour, two-encore show on the quiet side with Metals songs, Undiscovered First and How Come You Never Go There.
The song was another Metals tune, A Commotion, and it kicked the show into another gear as an enthusiastic freestyle dancer, an older gentleman in a tie-dyed shirt who I’ve glimpsed before in the aisles at Massey Hall show, but never actually on stage with the artist, sprang to life.
I’m going to call him “Hippie Man,” for no other reason than he definitely seemed like a free spirit, much like the magical Feist herself.
Initially, he was doing his arms-flailing, body weaving thing while in a seat during A Commotion, with Feist responding in kind by bobbing back and forth while she sang and played guitar.
But he, along with a handful of other male dancers, eventually made their way up to join Feist during My Moon, My Man, in front of the approving crowd who clapped along.
By the next song, I Feel It All, it got pretty crowded up there with another 50 people joining Feist, Mountain Man - often dressed in suede ponchos with bells attached - and pianist-synth player, Brian Lebarton, multi-instrumentalist Charles Spearin and drummer Lucky Paul.
“Grab some wood,” instructed Feist to the now large crowd on stage and they dutifully sat down where they remained for the rest of the show (until they started dancing again.)
“It’s like a kindergarten class up here.”
As is usual at any Feist show, there was also interesting visual accompaniment, beginning with black and white photos/paintings (not sure which) on the backdrop behind her, but quickly switching over to closeups of Feist and her band members gathered from closeups from cameras placed all around the stage.
Song highlights were plentiful, beginning with the vocally stunning Mushaboom, So Sorry - with Feist playing with the song’s tempo - Honey, Honey, Let It Die (during which she encouraged slow-dancing in the aisles and two of the women from Mountain Man also complied) and Intuition; the stirring new songs Anti-Pioneer, The Bad In Each Other (which included opener Bry Webb of the Constantines on stage), Caught a Light Wind, Get It Wrong, Get It Right; and the-dance happy My Moon, My Man, I Feel It All, When I Was A Young Girl, and Sea Lion Woman.
When Feist, who alternated between acoustic and electric guitars, dipped into her back catalogue, she made a point about saying she was going back in a time capsule.
Still, she made it funny by insisting the crowd on stage keep it real, like when one girl whipped out an iPhone to film Feist during Let It Die.
“iPhones didn’t exist back in 2004,”said Feist. “This is a breach of the holo-deck!”