On one of my rare weekends off my friends and I managed to fit in a nice bit of music, seeing two artists that I didn’t think I’d get to see in Ireland live, never mind in the same weekend: Sufjan Stevens and Feist. The former was playing two sold-out nights down in Dublin, and the latter was doing “An evening with…” as part of a local festival to celebrate the playwright Brian Friel. To be honest I had absolutely no idea what an evening with Leslie Feist would entail, but I wasn’t going to snuff at the ticket price of £15 to find out.
Four of us headed down to Dublin on the Saturday, stopping off at an artisan farm-house coffee shop/florist/grocer for a game of Spot The Middle Class Hipsters (I’ll stop making so many hyperlinks soon I promise) before a jaunt around Dublin for a few hours. I’d seen Sufjan once before, and remember being amazed as he finished off the show with his 25-minute long epic Impossible Soul, with giant balloons and beach balls falling from the ceiling into a crowd of indie ravers.
His newest album Carrie & Lowell has a slightly different tone, written following the death of his parents. It’s a beautiful (if heartbreaking) piece of work, and so on the night gone was the youthful exuberant wing-clad songster I’d seen before, and instead stood a man crafting some really beautiful music out of his grief. So many of the songs created such an encapsulating soundscape, each cast in front of brilliant backdrops: videos of his family growing up, or stunning vistas of sunsets, forests or oceans. Other songs were haunting: the audience not muttering a word, the whole concert hall together in silence.
The whole thing was just so impressive, that the imagination of one man could make such a beautiful and expressive show. I really enjoyed it. Also at one point he moved away from his acoustic roots and back towards his electronic ones and a space ship happened. It was class.
The Feist evening was a different affair, but one I still really enjoyed. Essentially she was interviewed by some woman (I think an actress but I don’t remember her name) about her musical influences, who inspired her to make the music she does, and where does her inspiration come from. Granted I would love to see her gig but this was the next best thing and I found the whole thing fascinating.
She gave a really intriguing history of her muses, in particular talking about the Archive of American Folk Song– something I didn’t know anything about. Basically a guy called Alan Lomax and his father travelled across America speaking to people in small towns and Native American tribes, capturing the music that the people were singing over the space of a decade. It was a really interesting talk exploring singing in the folk music/in the home setting versus modern day music, which she argued in a sense is being made for consumption rather than expression. It was all pretty fascinating.
She also played two songs at the end of the night, and answered a few questions from the audience. Obviously I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to her, so I stood up and asked some lame crap. But I don’t care how stupid it may or may not have been because now she totally knows my name.
Feist knows my name. She called me young man.
What a stud.