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Concert Reviews:
Orchestra puts shine on Sarah McLachlan show at Meadow Brook

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- Before she played a note on Sunday night, July 1, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival, Sarah McLachlan welcomed fans to "what I think is a fun, dynamic evening" -- which, a couple of hours later, proved to be a considerable understatement.

Last seen in these parts during the middling return of her Lilith Fair festival in 2010, McLachlan is spending this summer playing with orchestras at her various tour stops. On Sunday with her four-piece band and the 54-member Trudell Symphony -- conducted by arranger Sean O'Loughlin -- it wasn't exactly a wholesale reinvention of her catalog, but it was a new twist that freshened McLachlan's material and clearly put a little extra shine in McLachlan's performance during the 22 songs.

O'Loughlin's arrangements, for the most part, added textural power to McLachlan's generally spacious songs, including favorites such as "Building a Mystery," "I Will Remember You," the buoyant "Loving You is Easy," "Adia" and a richly rendered "Angel," as well as deeper fare like "U Want Me 2," "Answer," "Fallen," "Rivers of Love," "Forgiveness" and Susan Enan's "Bring on the Wonder." He did, however, find room to insert clever hooks and orchestral "licks" into songs like "Hold On," "World on Fire" and "Possession" but also left room for McLachlan's soaring vocalics, which were clearly even more inspired by the symphonic trappings.

The highlight, however, was a one-two punch performed by McLachlan without her band, with only piano and orchestra accompaniment. "Sweet Surrender" was recast from its upbeat album version to its original ballad form, while "Love Come," originally written for a film, truly lived up to McLachlan's description as "a song built for a symphony arrangement."

McLachlan did break from the orchestral format for four songs at the start of the night's second half, playing a stripped down version of "Good Enough" and a band treatment of "Illusions of Bliss" and also showcasing married group members Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet (aka Whitehorse) on their own "Brake" and "Broken One," respectively -- the latter a duet written about Doucet's former girlfriend but "fixed" by McClelland.

And by the end of the night, McLachlan's fans know to scream for "Ice Cream" -- and they got it, with another complementary orchestra arrangement that gave the lighthearted tune a little more oomph to bring a sweet end to a show that was indeed fun and dynamic, and eminently satisfying night

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