Feist is back: With new concert residencies, she wants to get on the audience’s level

By John O’Kane

“Leslie Feist was in northern Germany in the depths of summer, in a black-box theatre on a sprawling Hamburg performing-arts campus, trying to solve a riddle at the same time she was writing it. From a short, barely-there stage, surrounded by concentric circles of wooden boxes, she and a production team were testing lighting levels, camera angles and lyric changes, each in the pursuit of a singular goal: to narrow the gap between herself and her audience…

That’s how she wound up at the campus of the Hamburg performing-arts company Kampnagel, workshopping and then debuting the style of performance she’d spent years dreaming up.

The team behind the show has a history of helping audiences experience music in new ways. Feist met Mary Hickson, the creative producer, at a weeklong residency in Berlin helmed by members of Bon Iver and The National that brought more than 200 musicians together to improvise new pieces. Production and lighting designer Rob Sinclair has built psychedelic light shows for Tame Impala and helped conceive a stark stage-as-plaything for David Byrne’s most recent tour and Broadway show.

With their vision and the help of Winnipeg media artist Colby Richardson, Multitudes contains performative larceny, a dot-matrix-printer rhythm section, and live video – though not exactly traditional Jumbotron fare, with the crowd captured in manipulated footage in equal measure with Feist and her accompanists, Todd Dahlhoff and Amir Yaghmai. That crowd is seated upon physically distanced, wooden-box seats that are just uncomfortable enough to make its members aware of their presence – of their part in the performance.”

Source: The Globe and Mail