Singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan played an intimate show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on Sunday, June 29. The Canadian musician, best known for her ’90s rock ballads and more recent animal activism, released the new album Shine On in May of this year. The summer evening concert featured a selection of songs from that album as well as a career retrospective covering all of her many radio hits.
McLachlan started her set very strongly, playing electric guitar for the first three songs. (The haunting melody of “Adia” from 1997’s Surfacing was a crowd favorite.) She then apologized for playing “too many new songs” and led into the new track “Beautiful Girl,” a lovely piano ballad clearly packed with emotion.
One unique aspect of the evening was a Q&A hat placed at the merch table where fans could write down questions for the singer. Some of the notable topics included the inspiration for the song “Angel,” which was written in response to the death of Smashing Pumpkins keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin. When asked which she should would most want with her on a desert island — tweezers or a vibrator — McLachlan responded “why would I need tweezers?”
Following an hour of music and an intermission, McLachlan’s second set commenced with a more pared-down setup. Drummer Curt Bisquera (a studio legend) took to a small cocktail kit and the band played several beautiful acoustic songs. One of those songs was “Frequent Distraction,” which was about McLachlan’s new boyfriend, former NHL star Geoff Courtnall. Switching effortlessly between playing guitar and piano, McLachlan explained that she started playing the instruments at ages 7 and 11, respectively.
The most unexpected part of the evening came toward the end of the night, as the normally subdued Humphreys crowd rushed toward the front of the stage during the song “Sweet Surrender.” McLachlan seemed to enjoy the crowd’s excitement, laughing and exclaiming that she hadn’t seen a mosh pit at one of her shows in years.