May 9th, 2017 | Live reviews

Feist – May 7, 2017 – The Palace

Leslie Feist is not afraid of silence.

During the last of her sold-out triad of performances for her newest album Pleasure, she showed that she knows to let a moment hang suspended around herself and the other three players in the band. Any one of a thousand lesser singers would have rushed in and pushed up a clumsy blizzard of words or sounds, filling up the space between the notes in the same way that guilty criminals keep talking when you pause during an interrogation.

Truth and silence are much more closely aligned than you may think they are.

The effect is such that it makes you not want to applaud as quickly after the songs end. Try not applauding for about five seconds after a song ends. Let those fading final reverberations shiver like the surface of a reflecting pool. See what else you can hear. Silence is just as much an instrument as any guitar or gong. “Any Party,” one of the highlights of Pleasure—accompanied tonight by its co-producer Mocky on drums—is a stone fucking banger, its rhythms living as a vigorous wind that knocks the storm cellar doors open and shut. Of course she plays all the big hits—“My Moon, My Man,” “I Feel It All,” “1234” (which really should at some point be performed in the style of the Ramones)—but the real treasure of the night that remained more or less buried were those silences and those gossamer moments when her voice became so intertwined sonically with the guitars that you’d think that they’d been left out in a cyclone, coming down fast like God’s own Aeolian harp.

Her voice moves in the same way that you might move from one emotion to the next, one feeling flowing into another—not as a waterfall or as an ocean, but instead as a strong and noble river flowing underground, giving life to all good things.

“This is a shout-out to Canada,” she announces, launching into “Baby, Be Simple” and the songs are of such quality that it gets to the point that’s actually faintly annoying to hear anyone else’s voice singing onstage. After you hear Feist’s voice, what else do you need? She does have some pre-recorded backing tracks of her own voice with which she harmonizes, and she’s also a master at wringing out an astonishing number of truly great tones from guitars both acoustic and electric. “Young Up,” the closing track from Pleasure, sees her urging the audience from their seats into what used to be the orchestra pit at this beautiful old vaudeville palace for some slow dancing. “I want to see some closeness,” she says—and quick as shifting sands they are there and they are moving slow to the music, couples in love or just plain loving it.

When was the last time you went to a rock show you could even vaguely consider to be romantic? That is some fucking showmanship.

—David Cotner