On Friday Januray 28, the sold-out crowd at the Park West in Chicago’s Lincoln Park was treated to a musician-swapping, eclectically-instrumented Canadian sound sampling, as Feist returned to Chicago accompanied by fellow Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett. Although at times the crowd seemed somewhat unfamiliar with the material, even casual fans should have been impressed by the talent on display from some of the premier artists from the Great White North.
At first appearance, one wouldn’t guess that Jason Collett is a folk singer. In fact, it might even be hard to figure out where one act started and the other ended, as Collett and his backing band, Paso Mino, were joined on stage by three of the four members of Feist's band at one point or another (including the scene-stealing Leslie Feist herself for a duet on "Hangover Days"). Within the commotion, a dozen songs emerged that are more reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy, Dylan and the Dead than Broken Social Scene, though the five guitar players on stage did provide a BSS-esque thick sonic texture to each of the songs.
While there were lots of glockenspiels, horns and some fist-in-the-air guitar solos ("Parry Sound" featuring my personal favorite), the real energy came from Collett, his guitar and his instantly catchy melodies. Perhaps it was his earnest tone, or maybe his willingness to drop down on his knees to sing a particularly heart-wrenching chorus, but after seeing him live, one is quickly reminded that Collett began his musical career as a solo artist, not just one of the many members of the Arts & Crafts communal talent pool.
Feist took the stage to a cheering crowd and began with a vocal number, looping her own voice to create a multi-layered “good evening.” This set the tone, immediately reminding everyone in the audience that she can sing anything she wants with amazing results - like a sultry, female Canadian version of Chris Cornell. We were treated to four new songs, which she played solo, except for some back-up vocals from Jason Collett and Paso Mino. One of the highlights of the evening was her cover of the Bee Gees "Love You Inside And Out," which is also one of the most energetic songs on her new album. Throughout the entire performance, it was difficult to take one’s eyes off of the tiny woman in the ruffle-sleeved dress who sang, bounced, and played guitar like the indie icon she is.
This show was being recorded for the XRT concert series, so it was disappointing that the crowd was lamer than Tivo-ing The War at Home. One would think that at a sold-out show in Chicago, the audience would be jumping off of balconies to prove their loyalty, but it was hard for Feist to squeeze out a simple sing-a-long chorus, even when she mimed out the lyrics and nearly begged for some audience participation. The only glimmers of recognition from most of the attendees were during an amped-up version of her single "Mushaboom", the bouncy "Secret Heart", and the title track "Let It Die", which she cheered up by bringing an unsuspecting couple from the audience on stage for a slow dance.
At the end of the day, the most striking detail was the camaraderie that was apparent between all of the musicians in both acts. Subtle smiles and inside jokes flashed between everyone on stage and regardless of what band they were playing with, or what the mood of the music was, everyone seemed to be comfortable enough on stage to just have a good time with one another.
Source: Phil Hamstra