Tonight’s concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall will be just the third bay area appearance by Sarah McLachlan since 2005. It’s only seemed liked the Canadian singer/songwriter’s been ubiquitous, because of the 24/7 broadcast of those “sad-eyed puppy” commercials she did for the ASPCA, featuring her song “Angel” and her impassioned (and lengthy) plea for the prevention of animal cruelty.
“Honestly, for me, it’s been very positive and I’m very happy I did it,” McLachlan told encore last week. “Am I the brunt of a bunch of jokes because of it? Yeah. But I don’t give a s–t. It raised a whole lot of money and saved a lot of animals’ lives. So I have no regrets.”
Her star ascended – particularly in America – with the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (triple platinum in U.S. sales) and the single “I Will Remember You,” both in 1993. Three years later, the followup Surfacing became her best-selling record (“Angel,” sans the sad pups, comes from that one, as does her other major hit, “Building a Mystery”). The stats on Surfacing are substantial: 16 million copies sold worldwide.
To date, she has two Grammys and four Juno Awards (the Canadian Equivalent of the Grammy).
In 1997, she founded Lilith Fair, a traveling, country-wide, “Lollapalooza”-styled music tour featuring all female artists. “Over the years I’ve had so many women come up to me and say, ‘That was my first concert. My mum brought me, and because of you guys up there on stage, you showed me that women can do anything,’” McLachlan told the Wilmington Star-News. “And now they run a corporation, or whatever. It was about being something bigger than myself. I didn’t realize it would become such a huge thing, such a movement.”
The show stopping in Clearwater tonight, billed as “An Intimate Evening of Songs and Storytelling,” is a solo affair … to a point. “It’s fun for me to get to strip the songs back to their original form,” McLachlan said in a Sarasota Herald-Tribune interview this week (she performed in that city-to-the-south Tuesday evening). “This is how I wrote them, by myself on guitar or piano. I’ve always said as a songwriter, when you strip away all the bells and whistles, there still has to be a good song underneath it all, so I’m hoping that people think these are still good songs. (Laughs)
“I have a cellist that’s coming out with me to play a bunch of songs, and I love singing these songs this way. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel really comfortable to tell stories about them and to talk openly about my life and where I’m at. It’s kind of like being in my living room, basically, and having an audience.”
The mother of two girls, aged 16 and 11, McLachlan is hands-on with the nonprofit music school she founded 17 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia (she lives there). And she’s set to host Canada’s Juno Awards ceremony in mid-March.
“I’m a full-on dance mom, a full-time chauffeur, so lots of things that are keeping me from doing nothing but making music,” she told the Herald-Tribune. “Quite frankly, going on tour is a vacation for me. (Laughs) It’s so easy, because all I gotta do is show up and sing. So I’m very excited to get out there on the road.”
Tickets are available here.