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Alternative pop chanteuse allures
with orchestral accompaniment

Sarah McLachlan
Highland Park, IL
June 30, 2012
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Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

She may have encountered a few rocky years with the lackluster reception to 2010's "Laws Of Illusion" (Arista) and sluggish ticket sales of a Lilith Fair revival, but Sarah McLachlan is finally back on track with a tour she was always destined to deliver. Considering the lush arrangements of her piano pop catalogue, it's only fitting this summer's outing is backed by an orchestra, leading to a sold out Ravinia debut.

The two act evening accompanied by the Ravinia Festival Orchestra epitomized this ultimate night under the stars, and aside from a few recent sluggish selections, it heralded McLachlan's songwriting prowess and crystalline vocals. Opening with "Building A Mystery" proved to be a fitting choice, delicately blending slightly left of center acoustics with surging strings and the innovator's angelic delivery.

The always delightful "I Will Remember You" once again found the symphonic element amplifying the chanteuse's pitch perfect pipes, while the gorgeous, mid-tempo "Fallen" seemed even more tailor made for this tour's theme. Though a less natural fit for the orchestra at face value, "World On Fire" was cast in a fresh light and proved to be downright hypnotic in delivery.

Based on the level of audience sing-a-longs, most fans likely came to here older cuts and playing about half of "Laws Of Illusion" was certainly cumbersome given its generic direction. Considering "U Want Me To" and "Rivers Of Love" were bland songs to begin with, the extra instruments offered little improvement, though the cinematic "Love Come" did appear as a slightly more adventurous rendition, if only for the epic execution.

An additional surprise came during a bandless, piano-centered version of the normally plugged in "Sweet Surrender," which showcased the singer's sterling pipes in a stripped down setting. Other late concert crests included the riveting "Possession," the stunning "Angel" and the enchanting finale "Ice Cream," all bringing the luminary's celebrated past into the present with sublime seamlessness. While McLachlan may be nearing 25 years on the road, this particular tour could quite possibly the best thus far and hopefully it will inspire her to hit the studio with the same spark that lit up this particular night.

Related articles:

Sarah McLachlan - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - March 2011
Sarah McLachlan (Lilith) - Concert review - Tinley Park, IL - July 2010
Sarah McLachlan (Lilith Fair) - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - August 1999
Sarah McLachlan - Bloom (Remix Album)

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