Review by Mason Wright
Photography by Todd Duncan
McLachlan blew through town on November 17 for a sold-out show, and while it was only a brief stop on her successful North American tour, she was obviously as happy to see her hometown fans as they were to see her. Showcasing her summer release, Surfacing, the always humble McLachlan played a two-hour set that featured a good balance of new and old songs.
Playing in a converted hockey rink (also known as the "intimate GM Place Concert Bowl"), McLachlan opened her show with "Building A Mystery," the hit that has made Surfacing so popular, especially in the U.S. From that song alone, even the casual Sarah McLachlan fan was impressed by her sincerity on stage and her soaring voice.
Throughout the show, McLachlan was showered by shouts from the crowd of "I love you, Sarah," and she responded with a rare and genuine humility. Always a personal and positive role model, she told her fans that she often writes songs to recognize difficult places she's been in, and that she loves to sing them to celebrate her triumph over those hard times.
McLachlan also responded to her fans by giving them what they all wanted -- lots of music. She barely left out a song from her last two albums, including favorites like "Possession," "Hold On," "Adia," "Witness," and "Good Enough" in her set. She added her latest single, "Sweet Surrender," and even "I Will Remember You" from the soundtrack of The Brothers McMullen.
A definite highlight from the show was McLachlan's performance of older material. Claiming that she had grown sick of some of the songs from her first few albums after playing them for so many years, McLachlan revisited "Vox" and "Into the Fire," two of her more popular early songs, and brought the crowd to its feet.
McLachlan's versatility was also impressive. Besides vocals, McLachlan took turns on the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and the piano. But while McLachlan was busy charming the audience, her band was also strong. Led by drummer and McLachlan's husband, Ashwin Sood, the band was solid but unspectacular, letting the star of the show remain in the spotlight.
All too soon, McLachlan's set was over, but the crowd was delighted when she returned for two incredible encores. The first featured "Ice Cream," a song that McLachlan had been promising to her fans "for dessert." To no one's surprise, the song was played beautifully, and it was part of the reason McLachlan was called back to the stage for a second encore. This time, McLachlan's black Labrador lay at the foot of her piano while she played the gorgeous ballad "Angel" by candlelight. It was an outstanding finish to McLachlan's homecoming.
As for criticisms, I am at a loss. I suppose there is one improvement I could suggest for McLachlan's next Vancouver show, however -- to hold it in my living room.
Incredibly, Sarah McLachlan has built an international reputation as a dynamic, humble and awe-inspiring live performer after only ten years on the scene. After seeing her at both this summer's Lilith Fair and this GM Place engagement, however, it's easy to agree that McLachlan is at the top of her game.
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.