By Laura Stanley
With music, laughter, cheers, moments of heartbreak, a spontaneous onstage dance party infused with the wild dance moves of… lets call him “the hippie man,” Leslie Feist left her audience in Toronto on December 1, grinning to say the least.
In support of her latest album Metals, an album that finds listeners submerged into a darkness of passion, intensity, and vulnerability, Feist made her long-awaited return to Toronto playing at the historic Massey Hall.
After more than two years without seeing Feist take the stage, the Toronto crowd was far from hesitant in showing their admiration for the beloved indie songstress throughout the night.
Opening for Feist was former Constantines frontman, and one of the many musicians featured on Metals, Bry Webb.
Confessing that he was nervous about playing, Webb was also extremely grateful to be opening for Feist and playing Massey Hall, saying that it was a “dream come true.”
Playing songs from his new solo album, Provider, Webb’s voice resonated beautifully, filling Massey Hall despite the little instrumentation.
Opening the over two hour set with a new track, and one of my favourites, “Undiscovered First,” Feist immediately got the crowd going with its power and transitioned easily into a song that is getting a lot of radio play of late, “How Come You Never Go There.”
Having never before seen Feist in concert, I was blown away by the little things with her live show: the strength of her voice, her wit and charisma, and her kindness with the audience.
Not to go unnoticed were Feist’s backing vocalists, a three piece all-female band with flawless harmonies, Mountain Man, and multi-instrumentalist and Broken Social Scene-er Charles Spearin, who especially kept catching my eye.
With a revamped version of “Mushaboom,” the always stellar “My Moon My Man” and later on an almost unrecognizable “Sea Lion Woman,” Feist let the old songs feel fresh while still feeling like favourites.
Heavy overall on the new material from Metals, playing “Caught a Long Wind,” “The Circle Married The Line,” and “Anti-Pioneer” among many, the thunderous “A Commotion” spoke to one concert goer the most.
A middle-aged, tie-dye wearing, bearded man, all of a sudden let loose some interpretative dance moves, despite the very formal sit down atmosphere of Massey Hall, to a rousing applause from the crowd.
And this certainly wasn’t the end of the impromptu dance party.
“I Feel It All,” one of the many standouts from Feist’s, dare I say masterpiece, album, The Reminder, broke down the usual barrier between audience and performer. When two younger concert goers rushed the stage and started dancing, quickly joined by the hippie man, I thought for sure that they were going to be kicked out.
Security, or Feist for that matter, didn’t bat an eyelash. With Feist encouraging the crowd, about 35 people got on stage, turning it into a dance floor before you knew what was happening, and remaining there, both sitting and dancing at the appropriate times, for the rest of the show.
Hopefully joking when proclaiming early on, “This is what you called the home-town jitters,” Feist took command of the stage the entire night, making feet tap with the upbeat songs and breaking hearts with the quieter songs. The closer for example, “Let It Die,” captured the sentiment behind the song quite hauntingly.
Although I’m sure a disappointment to some concert goers, Feist did not play her most recognizable hit, “1, 2, 3, 4.” Probably hoping to move away from a song that’s casting a shadow over her career, not playing it was a brilliant move on her part, showing everyone she’s about much more than just the one song.
Something the crowd at Massey Hall totally got.
Great video of the crowd rushing the stage during “I Feel It All.”