More  Click here for photos from this show in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery Click here for photos of Feist at Cherrytree Records 10th Anniversary at Webster Hall in...
Feist : Live
Feist : Live

With this year’s Metals (QRO review), singer/songwriter Leslie Feist faced a very difficult task: living up to 2007’s phenomenally successful The Reminder (QRO review) – including single “1 2 3 4”, the first-ever ‘iPhone ad hit’.  On November 2nd at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House, she faced an even more difficult task: her first show in the Big Apple in three years (QRO live review).  And Feist handled it all amazingly.

Technically, the BAM date wasn’t her first NYC show, as she’d played in a crypt in Harlem on October 3rd, but that was only for those few who bought Metals that day (its release date) at Sound Fix Records (QRO venue review) and picked up a ticket for the show (which was announced that day).  BAM was her ‘real’ first show – the first one that you could buy, the first one that you could get a ticket for more than a handful of hours in advance, the first one in a real venue, the first one that was a ‘real’ show.  Howard Gilman Opera House (QRO venue review) was sold-out, if not ‘standing room only’, but only because it’s a seated venue (with two balconies) – though by the start of the night’s fourth number, “How Come You Never Go There”, Feist did invite the crowd to get up & come right up next to the stage.

Leslie FeistThat wasn’t the only time Feist engaged with the crowd, or the only time they got close.  Feist opened with “Undiscovered Past” and “A Commotion” from Metals (it dominated the set list – see below – with all twelve of its tracks played, comprising two-thirds of the set), both of which started stripped and spookily quiet, before going big and opera house-orchestral, then “Graveyard” and “How Come”.  Early on, Feist praised one fan for rockin’ so hard that he was “barely in the chair,” even inviting him to sit on stage, before comprising a few songs later by inviting everyone who wanted to, to come stand at the lip of the stage (though only those who had orchestra-level tickets were actually able too…).  Feist joked about the undecided nature towards bringing people back to life in “Graveyard” – “That’s not something you should be indecisive about,” and also ad-lib-sang during the song, “I don’t mind if they take photos, actually…” when BAM security were telling a seated fan to stop doing so.  There was also a running joke about a conch shell that was apparently being passed around the crowd, which Feist encouraged people to blow on, but advised, “Keep in mind how many other people have done that.  It’s like putting your mouth directly on the subway…”  Indeed, Feist encouraged anyone in the audience who had any instrument to play it – kazoo, penny whistle, “Ever take a comb & a piece of wax paper onto the subway and pretend to be a busker?  Anyone?…”

Not that the show was all joking frivolity and sudden conch shell solos.  It was amazing that Feist and her band could go from a big, rockin’, fun number to a piece so stripped & quiet that you could hear a pin drop – and the crowd was fully onboard with it all.  The biggest, most boppin’ time of the night was the back-to-back-to-back “The Bad In Each Other”/”My Moon My Man”/”I Feel It All”, yet after Feist took everyone back in a “time machine” to 2008 for The Reminder‘s “I Feel It All”, she brought near-silence for the following “Caught a Little Wind”.  Feist pulled it off again in her encore return, going from cheers at her coming back to the reduced “Cicadas & Gulls”.  Meanwhile, the hushed “Mushaboom” of debut Let It Die was turned into a bigger, gothic-orchestral song at the opera house.
Feist in Howard Gilman Opera House

Admittedly, throughout the performance Feist did seem a little thrown by the ultra-classy venue, and not just with the seating.  She was surprised that people born in 1995 (another destination for the “time machine,” along with 1972 & 2015) could be at the (all-ages) place – “Do your parents know that you’re here?”  And she remarked on the box seats near the sides of the stage being “overloaded with royalty” (was Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA there?  He was in the box seats three years ago at Hammerstein – QRO venue review), even asking for some “polite claps from the boxes” – though all of box seaters tapping fingers of one hand to the heel of another was, “audible – that won’t work.  Dainty little claps…”  If you book a seated, all-ages, opera house with box sections, expect a seated, all-ages, opera house with box sections…

[editor’s note: photographers had to shoot from the lowest level box section on the house-right, thus the (literally) one-sided photos.  But your correspondent was never kicked out of that same box section, thus saw the entire show from there, and not his mezzanine ticketed seat – so feels partial towards this seated venue with area for “royalty” like him…]
Spearin & singers

Charles SpearinFeist was ably assisted by her backing ensemble, which included three back-up singers right up at the front (even if they didn’t bust into rhymes when Feist asked them – and asked the crowd to ask them – to rap; rather they did a African-style ‘sung in the round’ a cappella piece), and Charles back-up singersSpearin (QRO interview) of Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on), who had served as opener by playing his fascinating Happiness Project (QRO album review) – Feist sung-quick at one point, “Can-we-all-take-a-second-to-recognize-the-uniqueness-and-beauty-and-the-incredible-awareness-of-the-efforts-that-The-Happiness-Project-gave-to-you-tonight?”

Before a wonderfully energetic “My Moon My Man” (from The Reminder), Feist invited one fan that was in skeleton make-up (despite it being two days after Halloween) on stage to dance – and the Skeleton Man did a great job bustin’ a move throughout the whole song.  But that was just prelude to the encore return, where Feist, during an extended, tribal version of The Reminder‘s “Sea Lion Woman”, inviting on stage anyone who wanted to (again, only those in the pricier orchestra seats could) – with which, in her estimation, “400 people” were on stage, singing & dancing along to “Sea Lion”.  But even this couldn’t faze the singer, as she got them all to sit down (on stage) for closer “Let It Die” (well, all of those who could – there were some unlucky souls whose standing spot was too small/close to the equipment to let them sit, so they were a bit stuck up there, looking like they thought they were Feist in the darktoo good to sit down…).  This did result in the accidentally unplugging of Feist’s guitar, but it was pretty quickly & easily remedied (the roadie, asked by Feist what to do to fix the situation, did mock-yell, “Get off the stage!”) – it took about as much time to fix that as it did when she lost her black guitar pick on the black stage & black floor (Spearin lent her one, and she promised not to hold it against him that it was green…).

“Well, New York City, it’s been a very long time.  You’ve given us reason not to wait three years to come back.”  Hopefully it won’t take a long wait for another new album for Feist to return to wow once again.

Set list

Leslie FeistUndiscovered Past
A Commotion
How Come You Never Go There
The Circle Married the Line
So Sorry
Bittersweet Melodies
Comfort Me
The Bad In Each Other
My Moon My Man
I Feel It All
Caught a Little Wind
Get It Wrong, Get It Right
Cicadas and Gulls
Sea Lion Woman
Let It Die

[note: yes, Feist didn’t play “1 2 3 4” – too soon after Steve Jobs’ death?…]

Concert Reviews
  • Anonymous
  • No Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Album of the Week