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Chanteuse's show could use
a bit more spirit

Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
July 11, 2008
Feist Feist Feist

Review and photos by Tony Bonyata

Despite thoroughly enjoying Feist's most recent breakthrough album, The Reminder, not to mention the absolutely perfect summer evening breeze the wafted past the up-lit trees and handsome ivy-covered brick buildings that dotted the lovely outdoor venue of The Ravinia, singer/ songwriter Leslie Feist's performance last night somehow left me rather unimpressed. Considering that her voice throughout the evening was in remarkable form - shifting from toying coos to sultry whispers and breathy bellows - not to mention that the inventive visuals were interesting to watch, it was difficult to put a finger on exactly why it seemed rather lackluster.

Strengths from the evening came primarily from her latest effort in the form of "My Moon My Man," the lilting balladry of "Brandy Alexander" and crowd favorites "1 2 3 4," familiar to most through its usage in Apple's popular iPod nano commercial, and the African-charged pop number, "Sea Lion Woman," which, with its much needed shot of energy by that point later in the show, had many fans frantically dancing in the aisles.

And, as mentioned, the onstage visuals - steeped in both shadow and light - kept things interesting when the band's sometime sleepy arrangements couldn't. The show opened with Feist positioned behind a large filigreed white scrim which she theatrically waived her body and limbs around, creating a moody dance of shadows that, with her large brimmed hat and long flowing hair, slightly resembled the profile of Patti Smith - which probably wasn't unintentional. When she stepped from behind the prop, clad in her all-white outfit (hat, skirt and tights) which also matched the monochromatic scheme of the rest of the band's wardrobe, the visual elements from the Canadian chanteuse and her musicians never matched that of the two females at the back of the stage who were creating arresting shadowy graphics on the backdrop courtesy of some inventive interaction with diamonds, veils, hands and facial profiles with the aid of a large overhead projector.

Though some songs worked well from a performance standpoint, there were just as many which lacked depth and interest. And Feist's continual pandering to the thousands on the sold-out lawn grew tiresome - for both those seated in the pavilion and the lawn. At one point when addressing those in the 'cheap seats' she even stated, "you know, my first boyfriend's name was Lawn. Lawn Pichon [I believe she said]. And he was about as responsive as you." It should be noted that not one of those with lawn seats could actually even see her performance down in the pavilion, but rather were content to picnic with friends, wine and citronella candles with her music piped in as a light, unobtrusive soundtrack for the evening. And after witnessing the actual performance on stage, this may have been, perhaps, the best way to enjoy this particular show.

Related articles:

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - June 2007
The Reminder - CD review - May 2007

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