Last night in New York, a mixed crowd of young hipsters and easy-going middle-agers packed into Town Hall for the second of Feist’s sold out gigs. Most of the crowd seemed psyched they could score a ticket to the 1,500-seat theatre, and for good reason. The chantuese’s excellent new CD, The Reminder — all bluesy torch songs with big doses of both shambling indie-rock and Norah Jones-style ballads — has earned deafening praise and moved nearly 100,000 copies since its May release. And though the CD gets a little snoozy, the show didn’t, as Feist owned the stage all night long.
The show could have devolved into an overly precious thing: She stepped onto the darkened stage to sounds of a wistful harp glissando; the crowd freely joined in sing-alongs; and at one point, she even toyed with a mini music box. But Feist made up for it with jazzed-up roots-rockers like her single “1 2 3 4” and “Phantoms,”at times strumming a giant red Gibson hollowbody with the wreckless abandon of Kim Deal from her Breeders days. The acoustics in the seated venue were so immaculate that when Feist engaged in nattering banter with the audience, it was like eavesdropping on a fireside chat. At points, like the gorgeous horn-flecked ballad “The Park,” the pops of her “p”s and the scrape of her pick against her acoustic guitar were easily audible.
The clear high point of the night came when Feist kicked her band offstage them off the stage to perform a few solo tunes. These included the delicate ballad “Anti-Pioneer,” which was enriched with guitar and vocal loops, and a cover of Dick Haymes’ “Now At Last,” for which Feist was joined on-stage by a Fedora-wearing tap dancer. She may say she loves her backing band but, as she proved last night, she can do just fine without it.