Sarah McLachlan at the Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA, Thursday 12 May 2005
The stage at the Patriot Center was decorated like a forest for Thursday night's Sarah McLachlan concert, with elaborate tree-trunk pillars and a network of branches extending high overhead. McLachlan even performed a few songs nestled in the nook of a moss-covered tree trunk. As she strummed her acoustic guitar and sang "Time" from the forest floor, she blended so well into the environment that she momentarily seemed like a wood nymph -- an image amplified by the ephemeral instrumentation that shimmered behind her vocals in songs such as "Perfect Girl."
Intensifying the night's moody feel, McLachlan dwelled mostly on the topic of love, or the slightly darker subject of love gone wrong. While she is known for her consistently smooth vocals, that glossy sweetness limited the range of emotion in her songs. Despite the increasingly aggressive choruses in "Stupid," her voice never gave the angry lyrics more than a quality of uneasiness, and she injected no mystery into the sultry "Possession."
The show quickly became a greatest-hits parade (as McLachlan had warned it would at the start), and after the first encore, when there were no more hits to give, much of the sold-out crowd rushed for the doors. The ones who stayed witnessed McLachlan's unexpected return to the stage to sing, alone with her piano, a heartfelt "Dirty Little Secret," the strongest performance of the evening.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 14 May 2005