Feist Is Masterful on Sunday Night at Brooklyn Steel
May 15, 2023
Feist – Brooklyn Steel – May 14, 2023
Leslie Feist is a master of creating songs that walk a line between triumph and devastation, hitting every emotion from longing to regret to sass to whimsy, precious-sounding at times and then — when they’ve sneaked up and grabbed you by the arm, perhaps with a tenacity you weren’t expecting — full of drama and often, excitement. Then there’s her equally masterful delivery of those songs: indie rock, folk and a number of other flavors (from bossa nova to R&B to electropop) meld and make merry such that, even if you’ve been to a Feist show before, it still all feels as disarming and charming and warm and aching as the first time she blew away your expectations.
When she’s at her best, Feist is a pantheon-great concert, and over the weekend at Brooklyn Steel, she added to a long history of A-level performances in the New York City area. You leave her shows aglow and with a satisfied smile, perhaps a bit spellbound. What might now be considered the Feist oldies — including “My Moon My Man,” the ever-wistful “Mushaboom,” the ever-delectable (and once again rearranged) “1234” and “Let It Die,” all on the set list on Sunday — threw an arm around us like old pals.
Still, this show was about two other things: The songs from Multitudes, Feist’s arresting new album, and her reinvented concert production, which this time around began with a solo performance for the first third and yielded to a full-band setup for the rest — overall, a curious and much-remarked-upon set of stagings that are a bit tough to describe if you weren’t in the room, but perhaps something close to “askew in the round.” The new tunes were deftly served — 10 of them in total — especially “In Lightning,” with its layered percussion and guitar sounds creating a gentle, but insistent racket; “I Took All of My Rings Off,” marinating in the tension of liberation and regret and being seemingly about both of those things at the same time; the chanting, spectral “Of Womankind” and the haunting, Joni-esque “Love Who We Are Meant To.”
As a show it was both immersive and intimate, and while Feist has received a lot of ink in the last few years especially for how she’s experimented with her concert delivery setup, really, it’s hard to remember a time when she hasn’t been constantly tinkering with it, employing as many different lineups and performance arrangements in the past two decades’ worth of tours as she has albums. It always feels fresh and not a little magical. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson
Photos courtesy of Dana (distortion) Yavin | distortionpix.com