Leslie Turns BAM Feisty in Just Three Songs

November 3rd, 2011

Feist – Brooklyn Academy of Music – November 2, 2011

It wasn’t a club, nor was it an ordinary theater that Feist played last night in Brooklyn, but an opera house. So you might have expected a little bit of decorum from both the musicians and the crowd. But that’s not the way Leslie Feist operates. She turned what could have been a staid “Evening with…” into an all-out cuddlefest with an audience that was all too happy to return the favor. The set started off serious enough with the tribal rhythms of “Undiscovered First.” With stark backlighting, Feist and her band were literally looming shadows over the crowd. On the second song, “Graveyard,” she sang, “Bring them all back to life,” surrounded by eerie red lights, and the stage was set for a full evening of gravitas.

But it was not meant to be, one song later the singer-songwriter urged the crowd to get up and dance, to come up and fill in the chasm between the first row and the stage. With an ever so slight “Can we do that in here?” hesitation, they quickly heeded the call and there was suddenly a bear-hug embrace of crowd and artist. Feist, in working through almost her entire new album, Metals, proved to be the master of the Oh’s and Ooh’s along the way. Her band was solid, and her backup singers—the powerful female vocal trio Mountain Man—stole the spotlight on several occasions. The crowd was in a giddy mood all night, spurred on by Feist’s amiable chitchat that occasionally turned into ad-libbed lyrics directed at the audience. And while those in the crowd were certainly in the mood to dance to songs like “I Feel It All,” it was the slower numbers that brought out the strengths of the band. Tunes like “Bittersweet Melodies” and “Comfort Me” seemed to stretch out each note, letting the music feel the room appropriately.

Finally, though, the up-tempo won out and Feist could hold back no longer: first inviting a still-dressed for-Halloween audience member to dance onstage and then, for the encore, bringing a large percentage of those seated in the orchestra onstage to boogie, gawk and document. As the band thumped its way through a great version of “Sea Lion Woman” entirely surrounded by smiling fans, it was clearly no longer an opera house, but Feist’s house. —A. Stein