Photos by Randall Vasquez.
Leslie Feist is a true north strong national treasure. Plain and simple.
And, while admittedly sounding very typical of many reviewed shows at Massey Hall in Toronto, there really is something special about seeing Feist perform in this particular iconic venue. It’s a fact known by a fair few, given that she has made her way to the concert hall a few times over the years to serve up an intimate reckoning.
This time around, Feist shared her latest album Pleasure in its entirety, along with select moments from the rest of her catalogue, for nearly two-and-a-half hours. It felt warm; not because of the sticky, second-coming of summer Toronto received, but because of the sincerity of the evening. Pleasure is an album that speaks to the quiet, internal dialogues and struggles surrounding loneliness and love, sentiments communicated through Feist’s captivating vocals, treading lightly one moment, and bellowing beautifully the next. For the record: Pleasure brings new life to Feist’s repertoire. It plays hand-clappingly good, as indicated by the various breakouts throughout the show.
But more than the honesty of the words, and the talent of the artist, is the openness with her audience. She teased guests about their sing-a-long abilities during “Any Party”, briefly spoke about her father’s hospitalization (before revealing she was livestreaming the show to his room), and invited fans to come closer to the stage.
Actually, Feist is very funny. When she noticed a trio who had taken their seats, she declared, “The delegation has arrived!”, noting that she was waiting for Trudeau and Obama to show up. Diving into the latter part of the show, she invited both couples and those who were alone to dance on her stage. For those who happened to be selected for “Let It Die” from her 2004 album, she asked that the participants disregard the somber lyrics. Later, she shared a metaphorical anecdote about her now-infamous Apple commercial, Grammy-nominated “1234”, calling it an individual that affects your life in a weird way, someone you part with, but they end up on your doorstep for tea 10 years later. A few tablespoons of such nostalgia definitely didn’t hurt anyone.
Neither did renditions of “I Feel It All”, “Mushaboom”, or the roaring “Sealion”, all of which were delivered with such fierceness and enthusiasm from Feist and her supporting band to an equally engaged audience. It’s that Canadiana spirit; the feeling of community, bound together to celebrate and enjoy a key artist in our musical landscape for one night, while the artist themselves set out to welcome that community with open arms, and do so successfully. Dear Leslie Feist: the pleasure was truly ours.