Sarah McLachlan March 24, 2011 Montreal concert review

I was looking forward to seeing Sarah McLachlan for the first time ever. Little did I know what I was in for.

I understood that Melissa McClelland was the opening act. So I was very surprised when “Awakenings” started to play, and Sarah took to the stage. I do know Melissa McClelland a little, however not enough to recognise her right away. As it turned out, it was Sarah McLachlan featuring Melissa McClelland (I did recognise her after a few minutes). Also featured was Butterfly Boucher and Luke Doucet among the band. It made for quite the spectacle!

The venue was Théâtre Saint-Denis, it was built in 1915. The setting felt very theatrical, in the musical sense, and right from get go, with Sarah and friends performing, the style of show with no opening act made sense.

Sarah, who cancelled a show in London March 18, still has some lingering laryngitis. I did not notice it in her voice until she brought it to our attention. And although I like a lot of commercial music, even with laryngitis Sarah can outsing many of them! She also mentioned because of the laryngitis, her register is a little shortened, so if she makes a funny face, as she said, she would be struggling to get around some notes. I did notice after she said, some higher notes were a little difficult for her, as with some sustained notes likely.

Given the format of the show, it gave Sarah plenty of time to talk with the audience, who was showing her plenty of love! That included a couple of question and answer sessions. Sarah would pull questions at random out of a top hat that were written by audience members, and answer them on the spot. Also, with all the accomplished band members, they were able to do a few of their own songs. Butterfly Boucher started with a couple after only three songs from Sarah, I am sure she would have been doing this format all tour long, but especially good at this time to let Sarah rest her voice! Even still, Sarah would sing backup for Butterfly, and Melissa when she did a few songs.

Following the opening of “Awakenings”, Sarah and her band played “Building a Mystery”. And throughout the entire set list, practically all her hits were played, a veritable greatest hits without a doubt, and then some!

Instrumentation was fairly standard, going from very rich full songs, often with three guitars, to acoustic ones. Sarah playing guitar as well numerous times. And of course piano! Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland’s husband was another guitarist, and Butterfly Boucher was on bass.

A couple notable highlights for me, first of all when Sarah played “World on Fire”, after a very nice introduction to the song. The song being about how we are so fortunate living the way we do, we have so so much, when there are huge amounts of people with nothing, or next to nothing (see the vide below). We take so much for granted. Although the song is performed as a full band, I feel it would be great acoustic, Sarah alone, to focus as much attention as possible on the song. Also “Adia”, very impressive, I can only imagine had Sarah’s voice been 100 percent.

It seemed as the show progressed late into the second set (there was an approximate 20 minute intermission to give the band a chance to rest) that Sarah’s voice was getting worse. She even hinted at it herself in a positive, playful manner: “you may have gotten the best of me!” I was actually kind of feeling like the show should end soon so she does not strain her voice too much. Following “Possession”, to close the show (pre-encore), Sarah and the performers received a standing ovation. They came back out for a two song encore (“Angel” and “Ice Cream”), and received another standing ovation after that! Very well deserved.

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