The name of this particular tour is 'Sarah McLachlan - An Intimate Evening of Songs and Storytelling with Vanessa'. Her opening song was a piano version of 'Possession', which McLachlan began playing promptly at 8p to begin the concert exactly on time. Her hauntingly beautiful falsetto was brought out early and on display with tonight's second piano acoustic performance: 'In Your Shoes'. Her driven anthem-like 'Fallen' kept things upbeat, but again the audience received the piano acoustic version of this song, with no percussive accompaniment. A piano and Sarah's voice only tonight: the audience was definitely in store for a musical treat this evening!
The very familiar 'Adia' was Sarah's next piano piece. The quality of the sound coming over the speakers was well-balanced and crystal clear, and Sarah's flawless voice was sounding better live than her recorded album versions.
Upon the conclusion of Adia, Sarah speaks to the audience for our first real dialogue outside of her setlist as she moves away from behind the piano and now has the acoustic guitar strapped across her torso. As she begins to introduce the next song, she offers up the insight that the next one is 'for the girlfriends... Men come and go, but girlfriends are there.' With this, she begins strumming the guitar and plays 'Good Enough.'
'Every once in a while I play electric guitar' is how she transitions away from her wooden acoustic to now an electric guitar as she plays 'Drifting', followed by 'Wait.'
She moves back to the acoustic guitar, strums it twice, and the crowd cheered immediately. Clearly, the audience is very familiar with her songs as they immediately recognized 'Building a Mystery'.
Remaining behind the acoustic guitar, she begins her longest intro into any song thus far tonight as she vulnerably opens up to the audience, 'So ummm... (sigh) I got a song I wrote for my dad. He was my rock -- my anchor -- that quiet force through life. He didn't have much to say, but I knew he always had my back. I lost him to cancer about 12 year ago. I think about him every day. This is for my dad.' She then sings a very tender 'Song For My Father'.
With the last song's intro, McLachlan is now conversing openly with the crowd, and we're getting a very lovely dialogue from her. She begins, "I got a new song for you if you'll indulge me. I don't know about you but during Covid, I went down the Netflix rabbit hole. I started watching Yellowstone and fell in love with cowboys. I thought I'd experiment and write a cowboy love song. Please forgive me because I don't f***ing know what I'm doing..." The communication was so refreshingly honest, that the entire audience started laughing. She began playing 'Cowboy Love Song'.
She transitioned back to the piano where she played her next 6 songs: her very popular 'I Will Remember You', which needed no introduction. She then began the 2nd piano song by saying 'So I have 2 daughters: 21 and almost 16. They are my greatest gifts... greatest challenges. They're fierce. Quite frankly they scare the sh*t out of me. The little one dances, (and) I was actually 'dance mom' last week. The older one is 21, living on her own now for 2 years. The next song is about the perilous journey of being parents, and giving them (children) all the tools they need to navigate this crazy world (she plays 'World On Fire'). She begins the 3rd piano song poking fun at herself, "If you haven't figured out by now, I really, really, love the depressing stuff. The darker the subject matter, the more elation I get when I'm playing, so typically these are about personal... trauma... loss.. navigating. Dark place is my happy place. The next one is my darkest, but I tried to put in some optimism (she begins 'Beautiful Girl'). For 'Sweet Surrender' she commented that 'It doesn't mean much... doesn't mean anything at all... Sweet surrender is all I have to give.' When she began 'Hold On', most of the audience was singing along to this one, and when she hit the 2nd verse, there were some 'woooo's' from the audience with one random audience member belting out 'We love you Sarah!' She completed the piano medley trying to end on an uplifting note: 'We need something lighter and happier every once in a while. You don't want to pick apart happy moments, you want to be in them. I thought I was falling in love, after a very long dry spell. Divorced at 40, life was over for me. Took my year and a half to climb out of that. The idea of love so exhilarating to me. I needed to get back on the horse and this was my ticket. I threw myself into it, and what an a$$hole he turned out to be. But it's ok, it got me over the hump.' (She then began playing 'Loving You Is Easy' to some laughter and moral support from the audience.)
She moved to the acoustic guitar and said into the microphone "While we're on the subject of narcissistic sociopaths -- I seem to attract them to me," as she flashes this coy smile on stage. "But you know, we'll bless them... I think of them as teachers. This song is called 'Monsters'.
So for the first time this night, Sarah admits slight physical weakness: "Now's about the time in the set where my voice begins to go. But I practice a lot, in my kitchen. I sing a lot, under my breath, so I'm thinking you might be able to sing along -- my only sing-a-long." She begins 'Ice Cream.' I would like to note here, that there was no detectable flaw or remotely apparent diminishment of her vocal quality or strength. She sounded just as she did at the beginning of the show, which was better than my vinyl album recordings of her.
With this her show finished as she walked off the stage to her saying to the audience, 'Thank you so much.'
Moments later she came back to shed some light on her encore songs: "I know you don't know these songs yet, but I'm hoping to put out a new album. I've got a new after school program: I have a new puppy. What have I done? She's chewing the sh*t out of everything. I need a succession plan. She's a rescue. This is the first time mom's away.' She begins playing a very uplifting song entitled, 'Rise'.
Throughout tonight's performance, Sarah was accompanied by a very adept and talented Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, who served as the perfect complement both instrumentally and vocally. At times it was genuinely difficult to comprehend how full and dynamic the sound emanating from the stage was, and that this was being done through only 2 musicians. At this point, Sarah welcomed Vanessa back onto the stage by saying, "What a glorious performance. Help me thank her (Vanessa). Such a joy!' Together, they played 'Angel'. Upon concluding this one, she says, "While you're clapping lots, I want to thank my crew and the local crew. Thank you so much for coming out and spending an evening with us tonight. This is like 35 years for us now, thank you."
Her final song for the evening involved her on ukulele for the first time tonight, as she strummed it singing 'The Sounds That Love Makes.'
Sarah McLachlan is a phenomenally talented musical artist, whose unique vocal style offers up a heightened emotional journey through the highs and lows of her lyrically-gifted, story-telling song selections. Her voice is angelic, and I cannot stress enough how much more perfect her voice and her songs sounded in person, versus her already pristine studio recordings. I have watched many live performances, but cannot recall anyone sounding even remotely similar to Sarah.
Her performance is a definite must-watch. Definitely go check her out!!