By Owen Nagels
I first saw Feist in Quebec City at the “Festival d’été du Québec” in the summer of 2006. At the time, I didn’t know much about her: only a few songs off her Let It Die album, and that she was once a member of Broken Social Scene. All I remember from that show was being blown away by her vocal and guitar looping styles and being fixated on her entertaining show.
The following year, I saw her for the second time — this time on a bigger stage with a few more musicians and a much larger crowd. Once again, Feist was buzzing with energy, leaving the crowd — and me — wanting more.
The great thing about seeing an artist perform year after year is that you get to watch them evolve. Feist gets more popular by the nanosecond; I’m pretty sure that every time an iPod commercial airs, she sells another record. Those first two shows were great, but last month in Montreal, she was absolutely fantastic. And Feist has now been upgraded to the Bell Centre — a hockey arena that sounds like a cave but seats a ton of people.
Her 90-minute set included songs from all three of her solo albums: songs from Let It Die and The Reminder that made her famous and lesser known songs from her debut album, Monarch. She opened with an a capella rendition of “Help is on the Way” and, armed once again with her trusty loop machines, she captivated the audience from the very first note.
Not only does Feist sound great, she looks good too. Mesmerizing designs from Montreal shadow puppeteer/finger-painter Clea Minaker were projected onto a huge screen at the back of the stage, producing an art show that complemented the music beautifully and captivated the audience until the very end.
Of course, the usual crowd pleasers were played: “My Moon, My Man” and “I Feel it All” got the room buzzing, especially when she ad libbed about Obama bringing an end to the war in Iraq (his big win was still fresh in our minds during this November 5th concert). She continued on with older hits “Gatekeeper” and “Inside and Out” before slowing it down for “Limit to Your Love” and “Honey Honey.” During these slow tunes, Minaker used her finger painting skills to project an animated thunderstorm onto the screen behind Feist, producing visuals so entrancing I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen to look at the musician I was there to see. For her encore, Feist came back on stage, lifted her feet to display the words “Zut Alors” (Québécois for “dammit!”) taped to the bottom of her boots, and played “Mushaboom” and “How My Heart Behaves.”
And then it was over. The audience left with satisfied smiles, and outside, everyone had only one thing to say: this was one of the best shows they’d ever seen. I can’t say I disagree.