Sunday, June 13th, 2004
Feist’s show at the Mod Club last night may well have been one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a long time. This wasn’t because it was a great show, which it was, but because Feist made the inspired move of including a visual artist (name: Shary Boyle) as part of her band. Her contribution was to create fascinating real-time art works on overheads projected onto the massive back screen using slides, silhouettes, inks, bits of foliage and even Leslie Feist herself. It was really a brilliant way of adding a whole new visual dimension to the show and really enhanced the experience. I often find that when bands incorporate slideshows or such into their shows it ends up being more distracting or anything, sometimes deliberately so for bands without stage presence oozing from every pore. While Feist required no help in the charisma department, the art show really put it over the top. Sorry to everyone catching the tour at later dates – apparently this was a one-time only deal, the production was assembled for last night’s performance only. Alas. I tried to capture some of the pieces in my photos from the show, but they can’t really do it justice.
As for the musical component, it was similarly unconventional and impressive. The show started with Feist expertly using a sampler/looper pedal to create layers of guitar and backing vocals while the band took their places – the looper was thusly utilized a few more times through the show with equal effectiveness. I was really impressed by how perfectly she timed the loops – speaking as someone who has tried in vain to get decent results from a looper, I can tell you it’s not easy. Her Gallic band also kept things interesting, musically, by playing a wide variety of instruments from trombones to keyboards to various curious percussion instruments. All of this helped recreate the warmth of Let It Die in a live setting, the main difference being Feist’s electric guitar work. This gave the material a rougher, rawer and bluesier edge than the album has. Live, it works really well. Her voice was in top form as well – jazzy, soulful, soaring, snarling and sexy in all the right places. From last night’s show, I don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate to call her Canada’s own blues-soaked Bjork.
If I have a complaint, it’s that for a homecoming show of sorts, there wasn’t a real love-in vibe. The sold-out crowd, though appreciative, seemed peculiarly restrained. Granted, this wasn’t a proper ‘rock’ show, but it definitely seemed overly polite. Maybe it was because it was an early show and people weren’t fully lubed up, but I put it more on the feeling of aloofness and haughtiness that Feist projected throughout the set, preventing her from really connecting with the audience. It’s something that Chart noticed at her Friday night show as well. Maybe she’s just been in France too long? I don’t know, but it was just a little off-putting. Didn’t ruin the show at all, though, just dampened the mood a bit.
Opener Gentleman Reg put on the best perfomance out of the several times I’ve seen him. I can’t put my finger on what was different, but for whatever reason last night it just clicked. A fine warm-up to be sure. I also want to comment that the Mod Club is a really nice venue – it reminds me of a smaller, more intimate Phoenix. Definitely more of a theatre than a bar or club. Great lights and sidelines – I’m looking forward to shooting some more shows there. Here’s my pics from last night.
Oh, and as a final note, rumour has it that Feist will be the “mystery” headliner at Wavelength tonight, making that three Toronto shows in three nights. It’s been kept on the down-low so as not to annoy NXNE organizers, but should be announced later today – I’ll confirm when it is (or let you know who the real mystery act is). She’d be scheduled to go on at 12 midnight, probably solo – I can’t imagine her band would set up all their equipment at Sneaky Dee’s. As (almost) always, it will be pay what you can.
Update: It’s confirmed, Feist is playing Wavelength tonight at midnight.
People in Toronto who like buying other peoples’ old things, check this out – starting today, there will be a ‘vintage flea market’ at the 360 every Sunday from noon till 6. Since today’s is the first one, I can’t say if it’ll be cool or crap, but I plan on going down and seeing what they’ve got so I’ll let you know. Cause Lord knows what I need is more junk.
I got a new bed yesterday! No more with the foam-mattress euphemistically-named ‘twin’ bed on a frame older than I am, thanks. I got a grown-up queen-size bed with all sorts of crazy bed technology. Gotta say though, it’s big – didn’t seem quite so big in the store. Granted, it was in a giant department store and not in my little bedroom, but still. It takes up a lot of room in the bedroom and I take up not a lot of room in it. I could probably rent out half of it to a family of migrant workers and never even notice. Independently pocketed coils, dontcha know.
np – Rainer Maria / A Better Version Of Me