Review by Carol Little
I entered the Moncton Coliseum for the first time on May 30th for the first of four Maritime shows of Sarah McLachlan’s “Afterglow Live 2005” tour. The Moncton Coliseum had the familiar, hollow, tin enclosure sensation of a classic Maritime hockey rink. This show was to be Halifax native Sarah McLachlan’s first performance in the Maritimes in nearly a decade and the thousands of enthusiastic fans in the arena were obviously excited to welcome her back. Six years had passed between the release of McLachlan’s last studio album Surfacing and her recent Afterglow, during which time the singer/songwriter was touring much of the U.S., both solo and as a part of her widely successful all-female touring music festival celebrating women musicians, Lilith Fair.
The Perishers, a Swedish band with thought provoking lyrics and a rubber armed drummer, opened for McLachlan, who graced the audience with a teaser performance, co-singing for one of The Perishers’ final songs, “Pills.”
At nine o’clock, when Sarah took to the green and brown moss covered, earthen-themed stage singing her recent hit “World On Fire,” the atmosphere instantly transformed into a warm, home coming concert that would set the tone for the emotionally laden performance. For two hours, including two encore performances, McLachlan wooed the audience with her whimsical, melodic voice, performing songs that were her personal favourites, including “Answer,” “Possession,” “Building A Mystery,” “Fallen,” “Angel,” “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,” “Hold On,” “Sweet Surrender,” a moving cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Peter Gabriel’s “Salisbury Hill,” to which the audience applauded along enthusiastically, particularly erupting to the fitting lyrics “grab your things, I’m gonna take you home.”
McLachlan kept the show personal with a lot of conversation, talk of song inspiration, the creative process and personal anecdotes. She told stories of her mother, who recently passed away, and of touring with her young daughter, India, that created an intimate atmosphere that left fans with much more than an average performance and a comfortable feeling akin to an evening spent with a group of close friends. Sarah spoke affectionately of the song “Push,” off of her latest album, saying that it was her one “true love song” and that she wrote it for her husband, Ashwin Sood, the band’s drummer, whom she later introduced to the audience’s roars as “my ice cream man,” in reference to the fan favourite song “Ice Cream” with the lyrics “your love is better than ice cream.”
That evening, the audience seemed to embrace both the music and the experience of spending time with an inspirational Canadian musician. McLachlan’s powerful performance continually brought the crowd to their feet with roars of applause. Through her heartfelt words, and genuine enthusiasm, Sarah McLachlan was obviously happy to be “home” in the Maritimes after a long absence.