The lovely, dulcet tones of Leslie Feist aren’t likely to get anyone up in arms — or so I thought until she took the stage Thursday at Seattle’s Moore Theatre, where she was greeted by some passionate whoops, loudly vocal approval and, soon enough, the obligatory marriage proposal. For me, the pervasive mellowness of much of Feist’s output — and especially her latest record, Metals — doesn’t engender the same kind of excitement, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s music that’s nice to just slowly sink into, and her Seattle show provided just that, with the initially vocal audience in short time settling into relaxed appreciation.
Feist possesses a winning stage presence, and her Seattle show saw her making slightly awkward entreaties to get the audience to sing along with her and later admitting that her criteria used to split the crowd into three parts — those who ride a bicycle as their main form of transportation, those who participate in water sports, and the lethargic — was pretty awful. Following soon after was a sing-song plea to forgive her for even bringing up the idea.
These interactions added some variety to the Metals- and The Reminder-dominated set, which floated along pleasantly, but was at its best when she headed for more energetic waters, which Metals’ “A Commotion” and The Reminder standouts “My Moon My Man” and “Sealion” provided.
Also welcome was the presence of folk trio Mountain Man, who Feist has brought along as background vocals on this tour. With exquisite, knotty harmonies, the three women of Mountain Man got some much-deserved recognition when Feist ceded the stage for them to perform a solo number and later when they joined her front-and-center for delicate encore charmer “Cicadas and Gulls.”
In fact, the one misstep of the evening was so minor as to hardly warrant mention, but grainy, kaleidoscopic close-up video footage of the band performing that dominated the back wall went straight past kitschy to corny. That said, a final overhead shot of the entire stage was a nice visual counterpoint.
After the set and one encore, Feist returned to the stage with Chilly Gonzales, her longtime collaborator and friend who also opened the show. They performed several songs, with Gonzales on the piano and Feist literally on it, standing at one point. The soulful, elegant simplicity of their numbers, including the made-famous-by-James Blake “Limit to Your Love,” brought a pleasantly melancholy touch to the show. On a cold fall Seattle evening, it was the perfect feeling to walk out onto the street with.