Feist / Gonzales The Orpheum, Vancouver, BC February 17

Feist / Gonzales The Orpheum, Vancouver, BC February 17
Theatre shows typically offer top-of-the-line acoustics, but the soft-seaters have an unfortunate tendency to suck the life out of a rock show. Such was the case for iconic Canadian songstress Feist, who struggled to engage with a placid audience during her performance at Vancouver's Orpheum.

Certainly, this shortcoming can't be blamed on the musicianship, as the singer was in top form, her sultry vocals striking the perfect balance between smokey and smooth. Her seven-piece backing band were equally impressive, and included a grand piano player, as well as a four-person choir (wearing robes, no less). The harmonies added a gospel touch to sombre tunes like "Gatekeeper" and "Limit to Your Love," while the piano anchored an ominous, pulsing take on "My Moon My Man." Still, none of it was enough to lure the fans out of the comfort of their seats, as concertgoers preferred to clap politely between songs and chirp out the occasional pleasantry ("Go Canada!" and "Welcome to Vancouver" were favourites).

Still, perhaps this wasn't entirely the crowd's fault; despite the outstanding music, the singer made little attempt to connect with the audience. She didn't even speak for the first hour of the concert, finally joking, "My banter's awesome tonight, hey?" before quickly launching into "How My Heart Behaves."

Opener Gonzales fared better than the headliner, an especially impressive feat considering that his set was almost entirely instrumental. A virtuosic pianist, he charmed the audience with a lengthy rant about the political implications of major and minor chords (majors are "fundamentally conservative," apparently), proving his point by launching into minor key versions of "Happy Birthday" and "Heart and Soul." Dressed in slippers and a black satin dressing gown, he wrapped up his set with a three-minute summary of his entire performance; this gag earned him the biggest ovation of the night, something that Feist herself self-deprecatingly noted during her encore.