I have a pretty dreadful record when it comes to catching support acts. When I think about it it’s a pretty irrational thing, I mean, I’m all in favour of value for money and live music for live music’s sake and a support act gives you both. So what’s the problem? I’ve probably missed out on a few corkers down the years who’ve gone on to big things too.It’s probably because too often the support act is an afterthought, called up at the last minute. Or maybe their label’s paying the main act to drag them around on tour. Or maybe they’re the support act because they’re actually not really that good. Anyway, I didn’t catch the name of the support act for this show but they were limp and insipid to the point of unbearableness. I’m glad I only caught the second half of their set.
The funny thing is it’s hard to tell whether they managed to warm up the rest of the crowd. The Glee Club don’t take too many pains to cultivate a live music atmosphere – witness the guy to my left who was pulled aside by a doorman for the unspeakable crime of enthusiastic cheering. Honestly, there are vacuum flasks with more atmosphere.
But enough grumbling. If there’s someone to raise the spirits and lift the mood then it’s Leslie Feist, a superlative singer-songwriter from the Broken Social Scene gene pool (where there genuinely has to be something in the water). Accompanied by an impressive band of multi-instrumentalists, When I Was A Young Girl, So Sorry (with perhaps over-ambitious crowd participation for the harmonised intro), I Feel It All and The Water all glistened beautifully.
My Moon My Man was a little perfunctory for my liking. It was good to see the band hike things up and away from gentle whimsy for a little while but it was punched through without retaining any of the light and shade that makes the recorded version so great and petered out almost absent-mindedly.
The Park followed and was odd for all the right reasons. Feist whistling flutteringly into the microphone, looping the sound and whistling over it again to create a lovely birdsong intro. It’s by adding little bits of invention and quirkiness without making it gimmicky that puts Feist above many of her contemporaries in my book. Still, a solo set of Anti-Pioneer and a cover of Tom Scherr’s In My Hands showed that the bells and whistles aren’t a necessary crutch. From here the pace was picked up again through The Water, Mushaboom and a delightfully spry 1, 2, 3, 4 to send us into the interval (NB: I refuse to accept encores these days).
The night was rounded off in excellent fashion with the Sinnerman-inspired Sea Lion Woman hitting all the right spots and finally a coup of such uncynical cheesiness it was beautiful. A couple in the audience had got married a couple of days before but postponed their honeymoon so they could be there – their first date being a trip to see Feist at the very same venue. It was a shame they were invited to dance on stage to Let It Die of all songs, but still, no-one could deny it was a beautiful moment.
And now, thanks to the genius of YouTube, you too can enjoy Feist’s performance of 1, 2, 3, 4 from the Glee Club (not recorded by me). Isn’t the internet clever?