Lilith Fair's Final Go-Round Kicks Off In British Columbia

Festival's opener in founder Sarah McLachlan's Vancouver hometown includes sets by McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Mya, Beth Orton.

The third and final Lilith Fair kicked off Thursday at Vancouver, British Columbia's Thunderbird Stadium with performances by the tour's founder, singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, as well as rocker Sheryl Crow, R&B singer Mya, folkie Beth Orton, light-funk group Luscious Jackson and pop band Sixpence None the Richer.

With both McLachlan and singer/songwriter Bif Naked residing in Vancouver, and popular Canadian singer Deborah Cox also on the bill, the gig assumed the warm ambience of a hometown affair, according to Marty Diamond, one of the tour's managing partners.

"It was all-around good vibes everywhere," said Diamond, who confirmed that this will be the popular tour's last outing.

A near sell-out crowd of about 16,000 people watched 11 acts on three stages, under a sky that started off overcast but grew progressively clearer, Diamond said.

After McLachlan's headlining performance, the rest of the lineup returned to the stage for a group rendition of singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon's 1969 top-five hit, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."

R&B singer Mya opened her set with "Ghetto Supastar" (RealAudio excerpt), the hit single by Fugees rapper Pras Michel on which she provides the chorus. Halfway through her performance, the 19-year-old launched into a tap-dance routine that was choreographed with her percussionist.

"Mya was amazing," Terry McBride, McLachlan's manager, said. "She brought out a tap-dance board that had mics on it and danced along with a hand drummer."

One week before the launch of the 40-date tour, McLachlan said Lilith has helped tear down some unwritten tenets of the concert industry, including the notion that fans won't turn out for a bill with only women artists.

"We've proven [the old rules] wrong time and time again," she said (RealAudio excerpt of interview). "There's a huge audience out there that enjoys hearing not two, but many women back-to-back. So I think it's definitely opened up some doors."

Performing with a full band behind her, Orton's set included the single "Stolen Car" (RealAudio excerpt) from Central Reservation, as well as tracks from her 1997 debut, Trailer Park.

McLachlan closed out the eight-hour event with a performance that touched on work from throughout her songbook, including "I Will Remember You," the new single from her live disc, Mirrorball, and such fan favorites as "Sweet Surrender" and "Ice Cream."

Al Peterson, assistant manager for the nearby affiliated Thunderbird Arena, said he enjoyed McLachlan's spangled blue pants, which the singer referred to as her "Elvis pants."

While he said he enjoyed Crow's set most — "I like music a little rockier," he said — his favorite performance of the evening was McLachlan's solo piano rendition of "Angel" (RealAudio excerpt) from Surfacing (1997).

"Her voice was crystal clear," he said. "She delivered the song perfectly."