- At Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Saturday
Someone forgot to appease the mother goddess Lilith, and so the estrogen-soaked pop tour that takes her name has suffered a summer of upsets. Concert cancellations, mutinous artists and poor ticket sales have troubled the roving road show that Sarah McLachlan called Lilith Fair upon its founding in 1997, bringing it back simply as Lilith after an 11-year absence.
Saturday's stop at Molson Amphitheatre - the fourth and final Canadian concert; Montreal begged off - was supposed to have been one of the bright spots: advance ticket sales were strong; the lakeside music park was filled to its limit. Unfortunately, the audience endured a toad-strangler of a rain storm for much of the show. And to think, it all probably could have been avoided had a virgin - Justin Bieber? - been sacrificed earlier.
That aside, the concert here was indeed the success it had every right to be, undampened in so many ways. Headliners Mary J. Blige and McLachlan were at their formidable finest; spirits were high; and a show-closing all-star finale of Because the Night roared with arm-in-arm triumph.
Those with a clear view through the shield of umbrellas saw the star Vancouver singer McLachlan on the side stage , guesting on an afternoon set by Toronto's Melissa McClelland, who is a dandy songwriter and a convincing singer of blues, soul and noir cabaret-rock.
What she says
Right before the day's first mainstage set (loud, hummable country rock from Court Yard Hounds, starring the Dixie Chicks' Emily Robison and Martie Maguire), a barge-held press conference was held. Between bursts of backslapping and ya-ya sisterhood banality - "It's a great day to be a woman in music," twice said the electro-pop pixie who calls herself Lights - we heard McLachlan shrug off money matters: "I put the financial stuff in a little box and put it on a shelf a long time ago."
Tickets ranged reasonably from $31.50 to $101, with special packages available at higher price levels. A burger-and fries-combo, when packaged with a 24-oz Molson product, ran $19.75. And at the Swag Shack, $90 bought you a long, hooded jacket ("exclusively designed by Sarah McLachlan for Lilith") that was made of 70-per-cent bamboo and 25-per-cent cotton.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary
The soul-shouting No More Drama insister was no sister. Though her performance was emotive to the extreme and utterly dominant, Blige neither took part in the press conference nor the stage-sharing concert encore. The Grammy-winner's renditions of U2's One and Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven were awesomely thorough, but with words "we're one, but we're not the same" still reverberating, the singer's tour buses were already rolling out of town.
No restroom for the wicked
Because women outnumbered men by a rough count of 10-to-one, one of the men's washrooms was converted to a women's facility, leaving a lone pit-stop place for those with XY sex chromosomes. Still, women, faced with long lineups, attempted to force entry into the less-occupied men's room. Security guards were posted at the doors, but one woman did manage to sneak in. "None of the men flinched," said Maggie, from London, Ont. "Besides, I had no desire to look at them."
"I know you're going to love this one," said the assuming Chantal Kreviazuk, speaking of her hit cover of John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane. Not willing to let the audience decide, the power-piano balladeer instructed everyone to sing along and to stand up, which they did.
Queen of Lilith
"For one brief period of time, we're sharing something bigger than ourselves," said McLachlan, during her elegant set of mommy-mini-van pop. "I'm supposed to be here right now." Mixing in past favourites with songs from her first album of new material in seven years ( Laws of Illusion), the 42-year-old performer capped a winning day. Earlier, at the press conference, she had commented that the festival would likely return next year, but in a pared down form. Until then, the I Will Remember You singer gave Lilith fans something to remember, sure thing.