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|Written by Dahlia Liwsze|
|Monday, 02 August 2010 00:00|
Lilith didn't mind getting wet -- drenched even -- and neither did her predominantly female audience at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Saturday, July 24th.
Thousands came clad in ponchos and armed with umbrellas ready for Sarah McLachlan's all-star Lilith Fair line up, which included Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk, Lights, Court Yard Hounds (Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of The Dixie Chicks), and Tara MacLean (former Shaye member with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle).
"How are you?" McLachlan addressed the crowd with a smile. "You look good. It's been a while."
It has. The last Lilith Fair tour was 11 years ago. McLachlan founded the travelling music festival with Nettwerk Music Group's Terry McBride and Dan Fraser and New York talent agent Marty Diamond in 1997. Between the summers of 1997 and 1999, Lilith raised over $10 million for women's charities in North America. The Fair features solely female artists or female-led bands.
CNN reported that in 1996, McLachlan became frustrated with radio stations and concert promoters that refused to feature two female musicians in a row.
As a result, she booked a successful tour for herself and Paula Cole. At least one of their appearances together went by the name "Lilith Fair" and included performances by fellow musicians Lisa Loeb and Michelle McAdorey, formerly of Crash Vegas.
When McLachlan founded the fair in 1997, she used the name Lilith who, according to Jewish folklore, was Adam's first wife and resisted becoming subservient to him.
Furthermore, Lilith Fair earned a $16 million gross and was the top-grosser of any touring festival in 1997. Among all concert tours that year, it was the 16th highest grossing, said CNN.
"You have to understand that Lilith became something a lot bigger than I ever anticipated it to be," McLachlan told Toronto's Eye Weekly.
"I'm incredibly pleased by the outcome. I never set out to create a political stance. That took on a life of its own. I just want to put on a great show to celebrate women."
Such a show occurred on Saturday, July 24th.
Blige and Kreviazuk joined their less known counterparts such as Darrelle London and Donna Delory (she used to be one of Madonna's backup singers and dancers for 20 years) to deliver music mixed with energy and positive messages.
"Ladies, you look good. You smell good. We can't get enough of you!" Blige told the audience as she moved around the stage with ease in killer heels.
Clad in a black top and white, black and silver leggings, Blige mixed old hits with covers, which included "No More Drama," "Real Love," "Be With Me," U2's "One," Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven," and her big hit, "Family Affair."
Texas duo Court Yard Hounds gave the audience a taste of Texas while Toronto-native Lights and Chantal Kreviazuk provided a good mix of electro-pop and adult contemporary music.
Kreviazuk played hits from her latest album, Plain Jane, which included "Invincible" and "Today" as well as "Walk Away" (written for Kelly Clarkson who pulled out of Lilith Fair).
McLachlan and three others joined her for her last song, "Feels Like Home," which was met with loud cheers from the audience.
Although Blige stole the show and got people dancing, McLachlan won over the crowd's hearts and had them singing along with most of her songs.
Sitting at the piano, she began with her biggest hit, "Angel," before launching into old hits such as "Building A Mystery," "Adia," "Possession" and "I Will Remember You" and newer ones such as "Loving You Is Easy" and "Forgiveness" from her latest album, Laws of Illusion (her first in seven years).
Her encore included fan-favourite "Ice Cream" and Patti Smith's "Because the Night," which brought back all the entertainers of the day minus Blige.
"I've watched [Lilith Fair] on MuchMusic, CTV, and City TV. For me to be here right now is insane. Ten o'clock can't come soon enough," said Patrick McLoughlin (spelled the Irish way), a 24-year-old dedicated McLachlan (he said her name is spelled the British way) fan and avid concert goer from Burlington, during an interview with (Cult)ure before the big-name artists took to the main stage at 5:50 p.m. He added that his stepmother Sarah could not sing.
"Sarah McLachlan rocks," added Al Lopez who was attending with his wife from Mississauga and friends from Oakville.
CTV's Tanya Kim couldn't agree more. "Sarah is the sweetest, most kind, warm, creatively brilliant person I've come across in a long time," the host of e-talk told (Cult)ure. "She has such a big heart, and you can feel it. She's amazing, so sweet."
With her network the official media sponsor of Lilith Fair, Kim has been travelling with McLachlan on the Canadian leg of the tour. CTV was there for the kick-off of the festival in Calgary as well as Edmonton and Toronto.
"After the show in Calgary, we got on a tour bus and lived that rock star experience, which isn't that great unless you're Sarah McLachlan," said Kim with a smile.
"I chose the middle bunk. It was a tight sleep, but it was a fun experience. The tour's been amazing."
One of Lopez's friends, who preferred to remain anonymous and was at her second Lilith Fair, agreed.
When asked what Lilith meant to her, Suzanne Curvan smiled. "Women. Empowerment. Friendship. Girlfriends and boyfriends, but they don't count because they drove here except for Al."
"[Lilith]'s about women, music and respect. Even though I'm a male, it means a lot to me as a person," said McLoughlin. "These are very powerful women in music."
When Self asked what part of Lilith Fair meant the most to her, McLachlan replied, "The community that is created for the musicians and the audience. There are few places for people to connect like at Lilith."
Her fan McLoughlin agreed. "It's good to see that it's still going on."
Poor ticket sales in some areas forced Lilith Fair to cancel dates, which included Montreal and Salt Lake City. Artists such as Clarkson and Norah Jones pulled out, the former reportedly to work on a new album instead.
According to Toronto Sun reporter Jane Stevenson, McLachlan told reporters at a pre-festival press conference that she was having "an amazing time" despite Lilith's challenges in its return year.
McLachlan "put the financial stuff in a box and put it on a shelf a long time ago" and was already planning Lilith Fair 2011, which would probably have a smaller roster than this year's approximately 100 artists on the rotating line up.
McBride told Eye Weekly that the media's response to Lilith as having a boring line-up and being unable to change anything because of the organizers' simple vision of feminism is partly responsible for the "self-fulfilling prophecy" of the tour's weak performance so far.
"When I see 200 shows get cancelled in June, not counting Lilith, this is a business that's in recession. When I see the Jonas Brothers cancel 25 shows, when I see the American Idol tour cancel shows, and pull back and have lower attendance, it's not about Lilith. It's about people and discretionary spending," she said.
"The bottom line is we're going to do 23 shows, we're going to have about 250,000 people out and we're going to be one of the more successful summer tours."
In her interview with Self, McLachlan added that "It's [Lilith 2010] really powerful. My heroes (Emmylou Harris), my contemporaries (Sheryl Crow) and up-and-coming artists (Serena Ryder) are joining one another for great shows."
Toronto was one of those great shows and proved that it is the concert capital of Canada. Rock on.
Tags: chantal kreviazuk, court yard hounds, damhnait doyle, emily robison, festival, kim stockwood, lights, lilith fair, martie maguire, music, sarah mclachlan, tara maclean, toronto, water