OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sarah McLachlan interrupted a recent set at the
Paramount Theater to make a serious announcement. She seemed visibly angry
"It's World AIDS Day today," she said, and then explained to her audience
that the AIDS-awareness organization Lifebeat, which has been touring with
her this year since the first Lilith Fair dates, wasn't permitted to set up a booth
"Apparently the manager of [The Paramount] wouldn't let Lifebeat set up a
booth in their lobby," she continued, "Because he didn't want 'that kind of
element' in his theater. I just found out about it this afternoon. And I've
been pretty angry about it. He's an asshole."
The singer then vowed to never perform at the Paramount again.
Peter Botto, general manager of the Paramount, tells another story,
explaining that the request to have a Lifebeat booth was made at the last
minute and didn't give his staff enough time to plan for it. "We have
certain rules discouraging unrelated organizations from taking part in
events," he said Friday. "I first heard about the Lifebeat booth when some
guy called me up at 5 p.m. the day of the show. We didn't even know if it
Botto said his staff prefer to make arrangements for such informational
booths at least a week in advance. "I think the time she spent making those
statements could have been better spent discussing the issue," he said.
McLachlan's camp, meanwhile, could not be reached for further comment on
Despite the interruption, however, McLachlan's statements were bracketed by
a knockout show, the last on her current tour.
It began as the lights went out and the first bittersweet strains of
Dance" (RealAudio excerpt) swelled through the dark theater. When
its final notes faded, an onstage curtain dropped away and McLachlan
herself, backed by a five-piece band, came to the microphone armed with an
acoustic guitar. She launched into her summer hit, "Building A Mystery."
The crowd shouted approval at lines such as "You woke up screaming aloud."
It was the last night of McLachlan's tour and the second of two nights at
the Paramount. Emotions ran high throughout the set as the hostess,
organizer and headliner of the much-hyped Lilith Fair seemed buoyed by the
chance to share her music on her own, with just her band and the crowd. "We
get to ride the emotional roller coaster a bit longer," she promised with a
Although recent fame from Lilith Fair has brought attention to her latest LP,
Surfacing, McLachlan's set included
songs from each of her four albums. The accompaniment of two guitarists, a
bassist, drummer and singer gave tender songs such as "Hold On" and "Good
Enough" an unexpected rock-feel and injected new life into them. "Good
Enough" even included a powerful guitar-solo by David Sinclair.
McLachlan took turns playing acoustic guitar and piano for much of the
night; and first sat down at the piano for "Do What You Have To Do" from
Surfacing. McLachlan's pained vocals, paired with her piano tones
that resonated through the luxurious venue, were in stark contrast to the
song's exploration of withheld emotions.
The band returned for "Witness," featuring the first of several
fantastically turbulent guitar-solos from Sean Ashby, who shook distorted
notes from his instrument. The lighting team made their mark with "Wait," a
twinkling backdrop of starry lights and slivers of white coming down like
moonlight, offering the perfect setting to the opening lines: "Under a
blackened sky/ Far beyond the glaring streetlights."
After performing "I Will Remember You," McLachlan's heartbreaking
contribution to the Brothers McMullen soundtrack, the singer
commented on the melancholy nature of her songs. "The more depressing the
song, the more I enjoy singing it," she laughed. "I'm not reliving the
horror or anything. I'm sort of grooving on where I am now."
The set continued with the spine-tingling "Ice," its intro a gorgeous a
cappella featuring McLachlan and backup vocalist Camille Henderson.
Keyboardist Vincent Jones added accordion touches before the song went into
full-swing. She followed with the breathy "I Love You" -- but not before a
woman in the crowd screamed "I love you Sarah!"
McLachlan also performed several songs from her first albums, including a
stirring version of "I Will Not Forget You" from Solace, as well as
"Path of Thorns (Terms)."
During "Into the Fire," her central refrain -- "I will stare at the sun
until its light doesn't blind me/ I will walk into the fire until its heat
doesn't burn me" -- was delivered nearly without instrumentation, its
powerful message inspiring more cheers from the crowd. She even performed
"Vox," her first single from Touch. Following McLachlan's and
Henderson's vocal harmonies in the soaring, wordless vocals of the chorus,
the crowd stood to applaud.
For her encore, McLachlan and her drummer and husband, Ash Sood,
performed "Ice Cream," singing its romantic refrains while smiling to one
another: "Your love is better than ice cream/ Better than anything else that
She let the audience to take over for one chorus. The night ended
with a candlelit performance of "Angel," (RealAudio excerpt), which found McLachlan alone at the piano again, as
she fittingly ended her tour with a song about the hardships of life on the
road. [Mon., Dec. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]