Sarah McLachlan at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 7-2-14 (photos, review) - Reverb

Sarah McLachlan at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 7-2-14 (photos, review)

“There are so many of you,” smiled Sarah McLachlan as she took the stage in front of an adoring crowd at Red Rocks on Wednesday night. “This is one of the most beautiful places to play.”

McLachlan was in a chatty mood throughout the night, though she never quite acknowledged the many shouted cries of “I love you Sarah!” that seemed to echo out every five minutes. The crowd, though worshipful, was in some ways subdued, remaining seated for most of the two sets and four-song encore.

That in turn added to McLachlan’s attempts to turn Red Rocks into her “living room.” Plenty of artists have commented on how Red Rocks, despite its capacity, can feel quite intimate. McLachlan took that to extremes. On stage right, near guitar player Joel Shearer, were a couple of red sofas. About halfway through each set, McLachlan stopped her performance and brought a few lucky people who won a social media contest out onto the stage to sit and watch her from the stage’s perspective.

While McLachlan waited for those fans to get down to the stage from the crowd, she answered questions submitted by fans at the merch table near the southern entrance, pulling the questions out of a hat. Some were serious, others amusing, such as the one that asked, “Dear Sarah: Does size matter,” prompting McLachlan to answer mischievously, “A lady never tells her secrets.” Another was about the first concert she attended (“Iron Maiden and Twisted Sister; my 17-year-old brother had to take me!”), while still another was about the craziest thing she’d ever done on tour, which she answered after reflection, “I skipped down to my skivvies in Paris once to humiliate the manager of the band we were opening for, who was an asshole.”

Once the fans were seated on the sofa, McLachlan wandered over and chatted them up. Among the first set’s fans was a lady who traveled from Boston to see her at Red Rocks; her husband told McLachlan it was the woman’s birthday and it was on her bucket list. In the second set, one of the fans asked McLachlan who she might consider for a tour if she ever started Lilith Fair again (Lorde and Lady Gaga were two names she mentioned) while still another teenage girl asked if she could take a selfie with McLachlan, to which she obliged.

Perhaps the most interesting question was about how McLachlan felt singing in the high altitude at Denver. She explained that she did a lot of preparation, and also that “the air is so clean here; you get to take big breaths in.” She concluded that she felt she was singing her best perhaps on the entire tour.

That was certainly in evidence during the two sets, as McLachlan’s soaring voice captivated on almost every song. Touring in support of her new album, “Shine On,” McLachlan played nine songs from that album, opening with “Flesh and Blood.” She introduced “Brink of Destruction” by talking about how hard it is to write when you are happy, spinning a long anecdote about writing the sad breakup song being a comfortable place for her, but challenging herself to tell new stories in her songs, and dedicated “Monsters” to “all the jerks out there.”

Her band sounded tight all evening. Shearer ripped an outstanding guitar solo on “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” in the second set. Drummer Curt Bisquera stepped to the front of the stage to play a single drum with brushes on “Song for My Father,” and could be heard quite clearly by a crowd so reverent that there was no talking, while keyboardist Vince Jones spun brilliant lines on the set-closing “Possession.”

After two sets of over an hour each, McLachlan returned for a four-song encore, starting with a gorgeous rendition of “Angel” that showed just how amazing an instrument her voice is. McLachlan then got the crowd to sing parts of the chorus on the always fun “Ice Cream.”

SETLIST

Set 1
Flesh and Blood, Building a Mystery, In Your Shoes, Adia, Answer, Broken Heart, Fallen, World on Fire, Loving You Is Easy, Monsters, Stupid

Set 2
Song for My Father, I Will Remember You, Brink of Destruction, Hold On, Love Beside Me, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Witness, Fear, Sweet Surrender, Possession, E: Angel, Beautiful Girl, Ice Cream, The Sound That Love Makes

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

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