May 7, 2012


5 Best Moments of Feist's Radio City Concert

Shirlaine Forrest
Shirlaine Forrest

My love of Leslie Feist is no secret—I gushed about her set at Coachella and her last album, Metals, was one of my top five from 2011. We've even shared a bed before! 

So, it was to be expected that I'd venture out to her concert Saturday night at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Yet again, I was floored. Girl owns a  little corner of my heart, for realz. And this time was even more powerful then when I saw her perform last year in the crypt of a Harlem church, and that's saying something.

The full 20-song set was a highlight in and of itself. But here are the five standouts...

5. The crowd's intense adoration. It seems I'm not alone in my Leslie Love. The sold-out audience at Radio City may have been older than the typical One Direction fan, but, damn, they might have screamed even more. It was one of the loudest roars I've heard at an indoor concert, ever, and certainly the loudest I've ever heard at Radio City in the eight years I've been frequenting the venue. Throngs of women (they outnumbered men 2 to 1, by my estimate) were on their feet, straight losing their minds every time a new song started. I admit: I screamed like a girl.

4. Feist's massive band. As I mentioned above, I saw Feist debut material from Metals last fall at a private show in a Harlem church's crypt. Ohhhhhhh creepy! She played then with a 20-member-plus band that left little room for the 50-some guests that night. But Saturday at Radio City she expanded even on that massive group, playing with a 30-member-plus group, which included horns, strings, a group of female backing vocalists dubbed Mountain Man and a core band featuring Broken Social Scene guitarist Charles Spearin. "Look at how she commands and leads that huge band. It's huge!" the girl sitting next to me gushed. "It takes real talent to do that." Amen, sistah.

3. All songs from Metals. I'll say it again: If you don't already own this album, buy it now. In a recent piece about Norah Jones, the Wall Street Journal's Jim Fusilli draws on Feist for comparison, writing, "On Metals... Feist rejects her earlier sound, the one that produced the worldwide hit '1234.' In doing so, she risked losing, and probably has lost, the mass audience drawn to her commercial pop side. Regardless of the financial sense of her decision, right now Feist is making the best music of her career." That statement couldn't more accurate. Sure, the venue was packed, but Metals failed to deliver a charting hit. So what. Metals is her best work ever. Songs like "Caught a Long Wind," "Get It Wrong, Get It Right" and "The Circle Married the Line" are gorgeous works of pop experimentalism. She toys with typical song structures, adding percussion to moments of intense emotional intimacy. Even when played by a 30-member band, these songs sound like she's singing directly to you, at the foot of your bed. It's beyond comforting.

2. Dancing onstage. During "My Moon, My Man," from her breakout 2007 album The Reminder, Feist invited up the first few rows of the venue to dance onstage. There wasn't much room, but dance they did: Some twisted and shouted, others did the Moonwalk. One guy just stood in front snapping photos of himself with Feist performing in the background. It was amazing to watch from a few rows back. Feist's music and down-to-earth personality seems to breakdown the separation between listener and artist, and by inviting her followers onstage, to go crazy and then mingle with and high-five them before playing the next song, that sentiment came to life.

1. Feist's continued refusal to play "1234." I've now seen Feist perform four times since October, and not once has she played the song that shot her to stardom. Yes, the song represents a tough time for her; she was forced onto the road for an extended period after the song's break, and she ultimately came to resent it. The tour was exhausting and sent her into a years-long break from music. Requests for the song rang through the venue, but she didn't listen, and thank god. In my opinion, any song from her catalogue is a better option, especially any of the tracks that she performed during the encore, when many expected her to play "1234." Instead we got a cover of Nina Simone's "Sealion," a moving rendition of "Limit To Your Love" and a chest-tightening, deep breathe-inducing version of "Let It Die," which, in my opinion, is one of the most blatantly honest and heart-destroying breakup songs EVER. Thank you, Leslie Feist.