Canadian songbird Sarah McLachlan, in her first visit to Indianapolis in many years, captivated her fans at Conseco Fieldhouse on Friday with songs spanning her lengthy career. The one surprise of the night came not from McLachlan, whose stage show was as smooth and polished as a fountain stone, but from the fact that she still has such a large constituency in Indianapolis despite her long absence from touring.
In talking with show attendees in Conseco’s smoking lounge, the level of commitment and devotion to McLachlan’s music was surprising. Most of the people I talked with hadn’t seen any other concert this year and weren’t planning on it, either. Nor were they interested in any local artists. It’s Sarah or nothing for them, which is perfectly fine, just a little surprising.
During her Lilith Fair days, McLachlan was forced to play a shortened set, which by definition became a recitation of her greatest hits. But with sole ownership of the stage, she was freed to sing newer material alongside her better-known songs, and the show was richer for it.
McLachlan’s voice can transport the listener to far-away destinations. However, the journey slowed mid-set due to some uninspired (perhaps lip-synched?) vocals and pro forma playing from her band.
The show ended on a high note, however, with “Sweet Surrender,” which was a reminder of just how great a singer McLachlan can be when she applies herself.
Suffering no shortage of spunk and energy was opening act Butterfly Boucher, who delivered a powerful set of material from her debut album. Boucher brought some much-needed spark to the evening with attitude-heavy songs like “Life Is Short.” Her set was criminally brief; however, she’ll be headlining at Birdy’s on Sept. 28.
Overall, while McLachlan is the unquestioned queen of her brand of easy-listening pop, she could have taken a page from Boucher and kicked it up a notch or three.