Past experience with pop-concerts filled me with trepidation as I approached Nelly Furtado’s The Spirit Indestructible concert at the Save-On-Foods Centre, Jan. 8. All too often these megastars disappoint in the flesh; singing to tracks or not at all, powering through their set-list to hasten backstage escapes or appearing as specters who could be anywhere for a crowed who could be anyone. Furtado doesn’t disappoint, at least for 2 out of 3.
Jessica Tyler warmed us up with some Taylor Swiftesque pop-tunes that were a foot stomping goodtime if not somewhat forgettable. Furtado’s new Nelstar Records artist Dylan Murray followed. A clear talent, there was something a bit perfunctory about the performance possibly due to the ear-piece gismo, which, as he informed the crowd, made it impossible for him to hear us. I’m just say, if you’re asking me to “lalalala” along to your lyrics, I want to think-I-know you can hear every off-key note. I’m sure by the end of the Canadian tour openers will have gleaned much wisdom from their headliner.
When Furtado took the stage a decade of seasoning immediately sent shockwaves through the crowd, thin though it was that rainy January night. If the seeming lack of hometown support had any effect, the multi-lingual artist didn’t show it. She swept across the stage, made several costume changes, played guitar, miniature piano, banjo and hot-damn can she sing.
A mash-up of past hits Try, Powerless and Turn-Off The Lights led to the opening rifts of I’m Like a Bird. Furtado snickered, “It’s time for this song.” The crowd erupted, but you couldn’t help wonder what her true feelings are for the song that made her a superstar. Change to ‘Promiscuous Girl’ from the titular promiscuous to mysterious was a small let down. That said, singing Promiscuous Girl to a sea of 8-year-old girls and their parent…a bit awkward.
From the upcoming album songs like Bucket List, Parking Lot and Big Hoops promise to become upbeat club anthems while Spirit Indestructible is awash in empowerment and inspiration. High Life strikes a more personal cord. With lyrics like “I never looked back once I left my hometown, said goodbye to everybody I know…be careful when you’re wishing for the high life,” it also showcases Furtado’s impressive rap skills.
I could have used a little more idle chatter about the hometown inspiration, but big props for her shout-out to the Idle-No-More movement. All in all, Furtado made a much bigger fan out of me. She clearly has the chops to back up her phenomenal success and whatever that zing great performers have is, Nelly Furtado isn’t lacking a drop.