Eleven years after its successful three- year run in the late ’90s, Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Tour is back with the same purpose of uniting women and song. With similar inspiration and a mostly new line-up, Lilith Tour 2.0 rolled into Denver on Tuesday to once again call out their “We are women, hear us roar” mantra at Greenwood Village’s Comfort Dental Amphitheatre.
Unfortunately, summer 2010 isn’t quite as loving toward the tour as those of the past, and the newest version of Lilith has been dogged by reportedly anemic ticket sales and a slew of cancellations. That’s not even mentioning co-headliner Kelly Clarkson dropping out to (according to Clarkson) complete work on an up-coming studio album. Nonetheless, the three-stage, revolving line-up tour continues.
Kicking off the main stage performances Anjulie, whose music seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the line-up. She was there to put on her show — to the apparent dismay of much of the audience. During her hit dance number “Boom,” a few people munched snacks and shook their heads, but her provocative and sexy performance went over well with the younger set, enticing some to dance and a few near me to sing along. It was encouraging to see that McLachlan was not averse to having a less traditional act other than the usual singer-songwriter common to the festival.
Smart and engaging Ingrid Michaelson followed with the most impressive set of the day. While her sound is described as poppy and the bevy of her work heard via television, Michaelson captivated the audience with her humor and thoughtful lyrics, most notably in “Die Alone” and “Everybody,” the latter from her newest album of the same name. Her solid arrangements and appealing quirkiness seemed to perk up a somewhat checked-out audience.
Metric, a band that was formed circa Lilith’s early years, brought a completely different sound with their old-school New Wave. Stylishly eccentric singer Emily Haines jerked, danced and contorted in an all out effort to work the stage both physically and vocally. For the most part, the audience’s attention wavered in anticipation of the one person most were there to see — McLachlan.
Before McLachlan took the stage, however, Emmylou Harris provided a set of stately and uncompromising numbers, including the beautiful “Orphan Girl.” Though most of the audience engaged in half-hearted applause, Harris did little to engage them. What Harris lacked in enthusiasm she made up in sheer musical talent. With a career spanning generations, and collaborations with dozens of industry luminaries, Harris did her set her way. In a bit of a departure, she threw a bone to the crowd with a lively rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Get Up John” that inspired some dancing (and an actual hoot) from the crowd.
McLachlan took the stage for a 50- minute (to the minute) set that kept the audience on its feet and singing along to almost every number. It was essentially a greatest hits set that included a few songs from a newly released album, but with a catalog that includes poetic lyrics and thoughtful themes in the most famous McLachlan songs — “Angel,” “Building a Mystery” and “Adia.” No one seemed all that eager to get to the new stuff. McLachlan herself was perfectly happy to be cradled in the familiar, her voice as lilting and lovely as ever.
Earlier in the day, two stages showcased up-and-coming hopefuls Melissa McCelland, Erin McCarley, Rosie Thomas and Anya Marina. There was a special nod to local contest winner, Liz Clark, who kicked off the show with the first set of the day. And stay tuned for Ft. Collins’ sweethearts Shel. Any of these gals could easily be headlining a Lilith Fair of her own one day.
McLachlan seemed thrilled to be onstage again and while the majority of the audience was there for her alone, she is committed to the idea of celebrating women in music and giving women a stage which they otherwise may never have. Maybe the time has come to hand off the Lilith reigns to someone else so it can remain the very thing McLachlan envisioned eleven years ago. As it stands, Lilith is a Sarah McLachlan concert with special guests.
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Jackie Lomibao is a Lakewood-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb.
Denise Chambers is a Denver freelance photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of her work here.