The Guardian

Buried treasure and a feast of Feists

Audacious, occasionally baffling stagecraft and much emotion act in tandem in a daring set in which Canadian singersongwriter Feist goes rogue


Leslie Feist is scrabbling around on the concrete floor, attempting to bury her jewellery. A circle of respectful audience members look on; the rest of us are watching a live feed of her mimed efforts projected on to the main stage curtain. A man we’re calling “Kyle” – he’s not really called Kyle – is livestreaming the action on an iPhone. Kyle divides his time between tracking the Canadian singer’s movements and wandering about, collecting ambient shots: closeups of fabric patterns, or at Feist’s request, the crowd’s own phone footage of whatever “got them through lockdown”. Mostly, Kyle’s phone films snaps of pets and loved ones. Someone offers up footage of sheep.

This is the tour for this year’s Multitudes album, in which a winsome singer-songwriter – or alternatively, a “hardened rock dog”, “30 years deep” into touring – goes a little rogue (it’s Feist’s last UK date, so spoilers are incoming). This Feist is gleefully toying with preconceptions, mixing everyday chat about grief and emojis with high-concept suspensions of disbelief. It’s a daring and wonderful production – and also hokey and baffling at once. Kyle is supposedly a random audience member that Feist instantly entrusts with her personal space, and her phone. Uh-huh.

Back on the venue floor, Feist mimes planting all her jewellery in the soil for a song called I Took All of My Rings Off, a significant staging post on that celebrated recent album. In the track’s lyrics, trees grow from her rings, underlining the circular nature of everything. In her prelude, Feist talks about the cycle of the seasons that lockdown allowed her to witness “for the first time in my adult life”; there’s birth and death in there too.

The song begins with her singing a cappella on a small round stage mid-crowd, the climax of a short solo acoustic set opening the show. These are songs delivered up close, in the round, with a bank of effects pedals and a loop station to keep things interesting.

But I Took All of My Rings Off ends with Feist transitioning to the main stage, where the curtain falls to reveal a full band taking up the tune. A drummer and keyboard player flank two multi-instrumentalists on more keys, bass and violin. Things get louder and gnarlier. The setup inverts a common arena band trope (main stage, then an acoustic encore on a B-stage). And the two contrasting settings also provide a salutary reminder of how many different Feists existed before this subtle artist titled an album Multitudes, to reflect the new selves that had come along recently. Feist became mainstream-famous on the back of a cute, breezy bagatelle repurposed as a 2008 iPod Nano advert – 1234, which we hear later, artfully deconstructed.

As the glove-puppeteer Bitch Lap Lap, however, Feist had previously been part of a wilder crowd that