Leslie Feist’s 26 year music career has certainly had its share of highs. The Canadian artist has come a long way since her humble beginnings as lead vocalist for a Calgary punk band in 1991, joining indie rock outfit Broken Social Scene, and attaining international recognition when a track featured on a iPod nano commercial went viral and the album it was featured on earned her four Grammy nominations. On her latest studio album Pleasure, the 41-year old uses her breadth of experience to inform her lyrics, wise beyond her years as she sings of lost dreams and seconds that feel like centuries, embarking on a new musical thrust that has her returning to her indie rock roots more than ever.
In many ways, the Esplanade Concert Hall was the perfect venue to listen to the newest material off her fifth studio album. “Think of it as listening to the album on a really good home stereo system, if your home was a really beautiful concert hall” she quips, playing the album in its entirety and in sequence. It’s a bold move that works, each track naturally segueing into the next as intended, and it honestly made us wonder why more musicians don’t do that each time they release a new album.
Opening the night with the album’s title track ‘Pleasure’, Feist’s voice quivers at first before it quakes, rising from a statement to a command as her lyrics fill the entire Esplanade Concert Hall. Her voice is stretched, crackling like a seasoned rock star as Louise Simpson’s lighting blinds the audience and bathes Feist in pink, completing the look. The Esplanade’s fantastic acoustics allow Feist’s instrumentals to reverberate, elevating the atmosphere to one that feels more like a stadium, yet maintaining the intimacy of a closed space.
Midway through, Feist asks: “Is Singapore a party city?” and the audience laughs. Unperturbed, she goes on to play “Any Party”, even getting the audience, hyped with excitement to repeat the song’s refrain (‘you know I’d leave/any party for you’) over and over again, recreating the makeshift, spontaneous tone heard on the album itself. On the emotional love letter to Canada ‘The Wind’, Feist’s voice is pensive, simultaneously capturing a sense of longing and melancholia as we almost feel the rushing wind referenced. She then moves on to the faster paced, louder ‘Century’, where Jarvis Crocker’s recorded voice hammers home the album’s themes in the outro, rising to epic proportions while white light flashes across the stage.
However, it was still Feist’s earlier, classic tracks that drove the audience wild. Playing some of her biggest hits, from ‘I Feel It All’ to ‘Sealion’, the latter of which got the audience chanting the refrain with glee and clapping away, one truly sees the way her music has evolved across her career and why it’s earned her such loyal fans. Having crafted some of the most recognizable indie tunes over the years, Feist feels like she’s attained a happy medium of all she’s been working towards, a mature sound that aches with age yet soars with glorious strength and determination. Ending the entire performance with a final ’10 years sadder’ version of ‘1234’, she flashes a cheeky smile at the still singing audience rapt with attention, and beats a hasty retreat offstage, a spark in her eyes as she proves she’s full of more youthful vim and vigour than she’s ever been.
The Esplanade’s 2017 Mosaic Music Series has ended, but do keep a look out for more events to come as it returns in 2018. Stay updated and visit their website here