By Shawna Richer - Free Press Reporter
The first time I saw Sarah McLachlan perform was in a smoky sailors' club in Halifax. She had just one album to her credit.
But she had a tight band and a dozen or so good songs and onstage she seemed shy and humble and appreciative. And the audience liked her very much.
A few years later I saw McLachlan, now three records under her belt, perform in a hockey rink. Again, a wonderful band and more great tunes from the earthy songstress.
McLachlan played Alumni Hall last night -- to a near sellout crowd of teens and twentysomethings.
The singer's refusal to do any publicity for this tour didn't seem to affect ticket sales. And McLachlan proved that 18 months of touring and the somewhat troubled year she has had has not at all affected her ability to sing a great song.
Her last album, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, triggered a lawsuit from a fan who wrote the singer obsessive love letters.
INSPIRATION: McLachlan has said that the letters were the inspiration behind the song Possession, Fumbling's opening track, and the closing to her set last night.
Industry gossip revealed that in November, the man's badly decomposed body was found in his truck near Manotick, an apparent suicide.
McLachlan and her label, Nettwerk Productions, are facing lawsuits over the ownership of songs from a former bass player and an engineer who worked on Touch, her first album.
And if that weren't enough, partners at Nettwerk are waging a war over ownership of the label that threatens to tear the company apart.
But no matter. McLachlan proved last night she is Canada's premiere songstress.
She floated onto the stage clad in silver lamé jeans, a black tank top and clunky boots. She opened with Fear, from her latest record Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, mesmerising the audience with her haunting voice.
OUTSTANDING: McLachlan has always been a technically excellent singer. But in the years since she began touring small bars and clubs, McLachlan has really shone.
Her vocal range is outstanding. She can move between soaring soprano to barely a whisper and convey emotions even more passionate than her lyrics.
When she sings, and she does so from the very pit of her belly, she appears to almost hover above the stage.
Most of the 75 minute set was culled from Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, with a few -- Into The Fire and Path of Thorns -- from her second album, Solace.
McLachlan performed one new song, accompanying herself on the piano, which offered music and lyrics lamenting being too long on the road and away from home.
Onstage, the Vancouver-based singer, lithe and long-locked, does not walk and she does not even appear to dance. She sways. And every move she made elicited screams and catcalls.
But what really pleased the audience was her vibrant voice. And again, like before she made it big. McLachlan was shy and humble and appreciative.
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