LIVE REVIEW: Sarah McLachlan in Boston, MA (06.22.24)

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LIVE REVIEW: Sarah McLachlan in Boston, MA (06.22.24)

On a beautiful and crisp Saturday evening in Boston’s Seaport District, Sarah McLachlan took to the stage to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her third album, Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. “I think this is my favorite record,” she told the adoring audience before she played the album in its entirety, a clear highlight for the crowd. But first, she dipped into her back catalog for some older and most popular songs. McLachlan opened the show with a glorious “Sweet Surrender,” highlighting her strong dulcet vocals. She seamlessly glided into the bluesy “Building a Mystery,” setting the mood for a magical evening for both veteran and newer fans.

McLachlan has been in the music business for nearly 40 years. More than a quarter century ago, I saw Sarah McLachlan for the first time at Lilith Fair at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass. McLachlan founded the Lilith Fair in response to the male-dominated music industry and the lack of support for female musicians, particularly by concert promoters and radio stations. McLachlan headlined the tour which also included Paula Cole, Juliana Hatfield, Fiona Apple, Autour de Lucie, Lori Carson and Tracy Chapman. For this current tour,  $1 of every ticket supports her non-profit, The Sarah McLachlan Music School in Vancouver.

The feminist icon played a bunch of songs from her impressive catalog –four each from Surfacing (1997) and Afterglow (2002) and two from Shine On (2014).  A friend of mine accurately said the show brought “all the feels.” McLachlan keeps the audience captivated with her otherworldly vocals and musical arrangements. Although her voice is her main instrument, McLachlan alternates between piano and guitar. She sat at the piano for a stirring “I Will Remember You.” Throughout the show, an image of McLachlan (or occasionally other band members) projected on the onstage screen. She’s comfortable, confident and engaging. Although we were outside in a crowd of 5, 000 people, it felt intimate. The singer-songwriter wrote the emotional “Song for My Father” for her sports fan father who died of cancer 13 years ago. Her vocals easily range from lilting, ethereal high soprano notes to darker mezzo to soulful alto. “I’m feeling great,” McLachlan gushed. “I feel a lot of love and energy.”

Before performing Fumbling, McLachlan changed her outfit from a long floral dress to a glittery top and black pants. She said her daughter insisted she change clothes. McLachlan told her daughter “Sweetie, I’m not Taylor Swift.” The crowd stood again for the album’s first song, “Possession” which had an impressive high and long held note at the end. “I think we look pretty good,” 56 year-old McLachlan said. “We’re still on the right side of the soil. I feel lucky to be here after all these years.”Acknowledging Pride Month, McLachlan said: “Every single one of us is beautiful and individual and unique. This month is about celebrating differences. Let your freak flag fly. Happy Pride.” McLachlan introduced “Good Enough” as a song for the love and loyalty that women have for each other. “Ice Cream” became an audience sing-a-long. Showing the universality of the song, onscreen images showcased different people singing the song, including some audience members. The thoroughly lovely, impactful “Fear” featured super high, transcendent vocals.

Clad in a Boston Celtics tank top, McLachlan came out for the encore and asked the audience to sing happy birthday to her daughter, who wore an NBA championship t-shirt. Earlier in the evening, McLachlan shared that they had a day off the day before and were staying downtown. “There were a few people around,” she joked, referring to the Celtics victory parade that drew over one million people. McLachlan indulged her daughter’s birthday request to play Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” It was a rousing and fun cover of a beloved song and perfect choice for the daughter’s 17th. McLachlan then went over to the piano and wanted to perform a new, never before heard song –which she’s been playing throughout the tour during the encore–but was told there was a curfew and she could only play one more. She wisely opted for her tear-jerker hit “Angel.”  Although disappointed not to hear the new song, the audience would have been truly disappointed if they didn’t hear that particular hit.

Featured image courtesy of Matt Lambert

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