Mike Mantin 16/04/2007

It's not released for a couple of months but I'm sure she won't mind me declaring (“I hope you've all got a copy”, she says before she leaves the stage), Leslie Feist's new album 'The Reminder' is one of the finest female singer-songwriter albums I've heard for a long time. While previous effort 'Let It Die' contained some gems, most famously tonight's encore 'Mushaboom', it's a consistent album, equally uplifting and delicate. Feist is clearly proud of it: she, centre stage, and her talented backing band play it almost in its entirety. She abandons a solo request of 2004 single 'One Evening' after a couple of chords. “Nah, I can't remember it. I've just made a new album…” Shame, but her new songs are so captivating live, it doesn't matter that she can't remember the hits.

So, we get the same mix of indie-pop and heartbreaking strummed ballads 'The Reminder' offers. Highlights include 'I Feel It All', a natural successor to 'Mushaboom' for its upbeat catchiness; 'The Park', one of the most hauntingly beautiful live vocal performances I've ever seen, and closer 'Intuition', which she originally played with Broken Social Scene complete with audience-assisted chorus. Their live incarnations sound faithful to the record, double xylophones and everything, but they're made unforgettable by Feist's voice. Her range is outstanding, she hits the high notes effortlessly, and it perfectly compliments her songwriting: all of the songs have the same gentle quality. Her stage banter is adorable too - she makes the audience hold a note (quite impressively, actually) while she tunes and mutters something about having a line to the president in her ear.

Set completely appropriately in a cosy venue above a coffee shop, the show is warm and intimate, and the band all seem to be enjoying themselves. When Feist tries to start 'Mushaboom' on her own during the encore, one of the band members peeks out of the side of the stage asking to play. When she refuses, he puts on the puppydog eyes and grabs an egg-shaker. She sighs and asks the audience to vote - they choose for “the boys” to play it, and of course it's magical. It's moments like that which make the show so engaging, personal and impressive. The world of singer-songwriters is populated overwhelmingly by beautiful voices making dull music, with few women matching vocal talent with timeless songwriting. Catch her in an intimate venue - coffee optional - before everyone realises that Leslie Feist is the woman to fill that gap.