All Eyes On Her

Striking Canadian chanteuse give cool, collected songs some muscular heat

The poor sucker who yelled "Look at her!" as Feist stood quietly behind her microphone, poised to sing, could have saved his breath. The surname-only chanteuse cut a striking figure in a sexy black go-go dress, and with her eyes framed by chic bangs and sharp cheekbones, it's likely that everyone else's gaze was already squarely trained on her.

All ogling aside, Feist (first name Leslie) used the live setting to give her music the kick it needs to distance itself from the ranks of coffee shop fodder. On Let It Die, her debut disc, the songs' edges are sanded and buffed to within an inch of their tasteful lives, but at Webster, fortified by the swampy twang of her guitar and her own playful, feline charisma, the same songs gave off a sultry heat missing from her cool, collected record.

As she worked through the album, Feist took the opportunity to flex her muscles as both a musician and a frontwoman. Whether showing off her guitar chops via some jazzy comping and country-rock solos or by prompting one of many crowd sing-alongs, the well-traveled Canadian handled the sold-out show with veteran élan.

Meow.
photo: David Atlas
Meow.

Details

Feist+Jason Collett+Mates of State
Webster Hall
February 10

Feist Let it Die (Interscope
Stream "Gate Keeper" (Windows Media)
Stream "Lonely Lonely" (Windows Media)

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The opening acts acquitted themselves well under difficult circumstances, playing for an audience waiting to become putty in the headliner's hands. Fellow Canuck Jason Collett opened the show with a set of comfortably scruffy roots rock, a utilitarian assemblage of country licks and cozy melodies that seemed in line with his day job as a carpenter. Mates of State, a husband-and-wife keyboard and drum duo, followed Collett with a high-energy dose of effervescent indie pop, all twisting melody and buoyant harmony.

The night belonged to Feist, but she was generous enough to let others share in its closing moments. During the penultimate "Let It Die," she called a young woman to the stage to slow dance with Collett. As Feist sang, the pair moved in a tight circle, lit by a backdrop made to resemble a starry sky. It could have come across as cloying and bathetic, but as scattered couples turned their eyes away from the stage and began their own dances, it was hard to deny that the moment was even lovelier than Feist herself.

 
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