Much loved Canadian artist Feist has been in the country this past week, touring her latest LP Pleasure, the six-years-in-waiting follow up to 2011’s acclaimed Metals. Her brief jaunt in Australia came to an end last night at the Sydney Opera House; a night that also called to an end her Pleasure world tour. The two-and-a-half hour set saw Feist and her three piece band play the new record from start to finish, ahead of two encores and an emotional goodbye which featured a healthy slather of her greatest hits and fan favourites.
Launching straight into the album’s opening title track, after the Canadian artist remarked in song, “pretty nice place you got here”, the new material proved to be well translated in the live space; only better amplified by her months on the road, touring and perfecting the songs. The album – which admittedly didn’t grab me as much as her earlier material, though is an understated and beautiful release – is taken up a notch live, with her musicianship (and that of her band) really making it something memorable.
The album’s second helping, “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You”, was one of the many times this was proven; building in energy with Feist’s iconic and impeccable vocals leading the way. In tracks like “Lost Dreams” and “A Man Is Not His Song”, live looping of her vocals – which ensured Feist was always busy be it vocally, on her pedals or showing off some amazing guitar work – added moments of pure splendour to the material. “Young Up” closed out the album with a couple from the crowd (Tom and Tara) being invited onto the stage to slow dance, as Feist mentioned her Mum had flown over from Canada for the show, which brought with it a few “awwwws” from the crowd – who by this stage had been wrapped around her talented finger.
Singalongs were employed to powerful effect throughout the night, notably in “Any Party” and “A Man Is Not His Song” off the new album. As the night moved into her back catalogue, kicking off with “My Moon My Man”, we found some of her best known material had been reworked – something she remarked specifically ahead of “1234”. She reflected on the song being like a friend she’d needed distance from for some time. The updated version serves as the natural occurrence of having ten years of experience under its belt; a song that had perhaps become more famous than the artist herself.
While this made some of the older material harder to singalong to than some in the crowd might have liked, the night’s best singalong was definitely found in “Sea Lion Woman”, and in a brief, spontaneous singalong to “…kookaburra sits in the old gum tree”, which I believe we were singing for Feist’s Mum.
After calling the night “one for the ages”, Feist ended the night with two encores, made up of three tracks that were, for the most part, performed solo. Her early hit “Mushaboom”, which she recalled playing in Sydney many years ago “in a venue down a cobblestone alley” (which may or may not have been near some pole dancers?), was a welcome trip down memory lane, as was “1234”, which saw her bring friend Sally Seltmann onto the stage; the Sydney based artist having written the song originally. Starting out solo, the re-imagined version of the song moved into band mode as the crowd sung along.
Returning to play “Intuition” in a second encore – with just her and her electric guitar “Big Red” – Feist took some time to thank all her crew, remarking how emotional she had gotten earlier in the day when she was thinking about bringing this tour to an end. And they all deserved thanks – her vocals were impeccable, and the band were great, but without a great mix (and tonight was perfect) and stand out lighting (which the evening had in droves), you aren’t going to end up with anything better than an above average show. And this was so much more.
Even with sound problems, it’s hard not to have a good gig at the Opera House. It’s a special room that usually inspires a pretty special performance. But to have a truly stand out gig is rare. They require a great crowd, an engaged performer AND the all-important yet all-too-rare perfect mix in a room that often struggles in the contemporary setting. Tonight was all those things and more. After a long absence, Feist reminded audiences why she’s one of the world’s finest touring musicians. Impeccable vocals, superb stage presence and a catalogue of music that few manage to achieve. Here’s hoping it’s not so long between tours – and new music – next time around, because tonight’s experience is one I hope to enjoy again soon.
I Wish I Didn’t Miss You
Get Not High, Get Not Low
A Man Is Not His Song
Baby Be Simple
I’m Not Running Away
My Moon My Man
Sea Lion Woman
The Bad In Each Other
Caught a Long Wind
I Feel It All
Let It Die
Feist played at the Sydney Opera House on 3rd December 2017. This was the final date of her Australian and World tour.
Photo Credit: Prudence Upton