The opulent setting of Playhouse Square’s Palace Theatre initially seemed like an odd choice to hold a concert by one of indie-pop’s most beloved artists. After all, the venerable hall usually stages performances by Broadway vets, big-time comedy shows, and Vegas-style spectacles. The sight of twenty- and thirtysomething hipsters with piercings and T-shirts mulling around the lobby before Feist’s concert last night probably sent blood pressures skyward in at least a few of the octogenarian ushers, who are used to folks dressed in suits and evening gowns.
But once Feist walked on the dark, spare stage, the Palace turned out to be the perfect venue for the singer-songwriter’s urbane blend of pop, rock, torch, and jazz. The Canadian singer-songwriter and her four-piece band -- all dressed in white – played a 90-minute set that mirrored the nuances of 2005’s Let It Die and, particularly, last year’s breakthrough CD, The Reminder. Onstage shadow plays (featuring candles, puppets, and blobs of all shapes and sizes) supplemented the music ...
Feist was in a playful mood, giving props to the “100-year-old” Palace, encouraging the crowd to make barnyard noises, and fielding requests, even breaking into a brief, impromptu version of Neil Young’s “Let’s Impeach the President.”
The audience, in turn, was courteous and appreciative, falling to a hush at quiet moments and whooping it up during the set’s more energetic numbers. And despite security’s attempts to keep people from dancing up front and in the aisles (this was a reserved-seating show, and audience members were expected to be reserved in their seats), faves like “My Moon My Man” and “1234” got folks moving.
The Palace turned out to be especially valuable to Feist’s smoky voice and the details that are tucked away in her songs. The venue’s warm acoustics wrapped around the kinda-jazzy “Gatekeeper” and absorbed the handclaps and foot stomps of the rousing “Sea Lion Woman.” Early in her set, Feist asked the audience if anyone was at her Grog Shop show a few years ago. After seeing her in such luxurious surroundings, we can’t imagine her playing anywhere else, let alone the harsh, cold, and cavernous Grog. Indie-pop sure is growing up fast. --Michael Gallucci