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Music Review

Feist smells the flowers as she continues ascent

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2008

It took approximately three songs into Leslie Feist's set Tuesday at the Bank of America Pavilion before the singer's mood became almost glaringly obvious. By then she had prowled the darkness at the edge of the stage with lantern in hand, chanted "Help is on the way" over some looped "oh"s as a silhouette behind a screen, and had flower petals strewn over her mid-song. She was reveling in her performance. There stood someone who not only was experiencing an ever-increasing amount of success and embracing it, but doing so almost entirely on her terms.

That's a powerful feeling for both an artist and the audience that loves her, but Feist seemed to realize that getting there without compromising her music meant that there was no reason to start now. The opening "When I Was a Young Girl" began with free-time electric guitar rattling before shifting into foreboding drums, and she moved effortlessly from the piano stomp of "My Moon My Man" to the Laurel Canyon folk-rock of "The Limit to Your Love."

Later, "So Sorry" walked right up to the edge of bossa nova, and "Gatekeeper" stepped right over it immediately afterward. With its gentle trumpet and sultry rhythm, the latter song proved Feist to be a singer that Burt Bacharach would have killed to work with. A deceptively powerful instrument, her voice insinuated rather than howled, never pushing too hard even on a gospel rave-up like "Sealion" or a headlong rocker like "I Feel It All."

That created a warm, inviting mood that was given a visual counterpoint above the stage by Clea Minaker's shadow puppets. The most elaborate of them involved Minaker's hand smearing paint into a shifting image of a boat, as Feist accompanied herself on "Honey Honey" with a series of loops created on the fly.

But the show ended far more simply, with Feist and her band playing the slow, sad "Let It Die" as though it were a late night at a country-noir joint, leaving so much space between the notes that there was enough room for the song's hurt to come through loud and clear.

Opener Juana Molina was a purer distillation of Feist's more avant-garde-leaning tendencies. Performing without a band, the Argentine singer would set up a folky arpeggio on her acoustic guitar before looping it and adding elements piece by piece - a percussive rhythm here, a space raga on synth there - until the music bristled with a glitchy, mechanical momentum. The songs tended to evaporate as soon as they finished, but so long as they floated through the air, Molina's spell was captivating.

Feist (Globe Photo/Robert E. Klein) Singer-songwriter Leslie Feist performs at the Bank of America Pavilion July 8.

Related

Feist

With Juana Molina

At: Bank of America Pavilion, Tuesday

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