Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Feist jazz fest opener an enjoyable but low-key affair

The 34th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal got off to a bit of a soggy start with a cold and rainy day that threatened to put a damper on opening day festivities. Shows carried on in spite of it all during the day. And when it came time for Feist to put on her official festival-opener, the rain finally stopped and the the usual 100,000-plus crowd materialized.

She gave a shout of appreciation for this fact, declaring near the start, "It stopped raining!" This was a great relief for her, no doubt, because she had to conduct her mid-afternoon sound check wearing rain-gear during a light shower.

She opened with "A Commotion" from her latest album Metals, and "My Moon My Man" from Reminder. She drew mostly from Metals with songs like "How Come You Never Go There," "Comfort Me," "Graveyard" and "Anti-Pioneer" but also played hits such as "I'm Sorry," "Mushaboom" and "I Feel It All."

The show itself was a very good but low-key affair that didn't really represent her at her best. But she did have a few things working against her. For one thing, even though the show was set to start at 9:30pm, she didn't come onstage until closer to 10:00pm. That wouldn't have been so bad except that even though it stopped raining, it was still on the chilly side for everyone still waiting.

She also wasn't well-served by her trimmed-down band of just a drummer and a keyboardist. They were both adequate but not anything out of the ordinary. The keyboardist mostly just played pads that gave her sound an even greater sense of sameness. She herself flipped back and forth between electric and acoustic guitar, but the acoustic guitar was heavily distorted and so there wasn't all that much difference.

But in spite of a few gripes, she did a fine job in trying circumstances. She had a good rapport with the crowd. And even though she may have lacked the energy that she has exhibited in the past, she nonetheless was charismatic and fun as always. By the time the show ended with a burst of fireworks, she had completely won the crowd over.

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