Mirrorball: The Complete Concert (Legacy Edition)
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Sarah McLachlan's 1999 Mirrorball, her first ever live album, showed off the singer in the prime of career, when her popularity both as an artist and as the organizer of Lilith Fair had made her a star. And while that record was good, and exposed the talents of McLachlan's powerful, clear voice and the strength of her band, it generally stuck to her most famous songs, especially those off her then most recent album, Surfacing. That same year, however, a DVD of the last shows on her concert tour (in Portland, OR, on April 20 and 21, 1998), Mirrorball, also came out, and it featured the singer's entire set list — which pulled from all four of the albums she had out — as well as her conversations with the audience and her between-sing banter. Mirrorball: The Complete Concert, released in 2006, includes the audio tracks from that show, banter (even more banter, in fact) included. McLachlan sounds impeccable throughout the entire album, her voice sliding easily from its higher range in "Path of Thorns" to something softer in "Do What You Have to Do" to the near wailing in the extended version of the song that first brought her to fame in the U.S., "Possession." Her band, too, whom she introduces on the second disc, is tight and professional, adding enough of their own instrumental prowess to make the performance something different than what would be heard on the studio-recorded discs. In fact, the live versions of "Plenty" and "Ice," with their additional vocal harmonies, are superior to the originals, which if nothing else attests to the abilities of McLachlan and everyone with whom she surrounded herself. The majority of the material covered comes from Surfacing and Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, especially the latter — all tracks but "Circle" are included — but she also dips back into Solace for "The Path of Thorns," a rousing version of "Into the Fire," and "I Will Not Forget You" (which is not to be confused with "I Will Remember You," also performed here) and even to her debut, Touch, with "Vox." It's a strong set, presenting the best of what chick-rock was in the late '90s: emotional, introspective music that could kick in both a distorted electric guitar and a soft piano with equal facility. By 2006, McLachlan had sunk into adult contemporary obscurity/notoriety, but Mirrorball: The Complete Concert shows her at her best, a nice reminder of what she once was, and why she had so many devoted fans.
I don't normally like live albums, but this one is absolutely amazing. All of the songs here are better than the studio recordings; there is an honest emotional connection that brings all of the songs to a new level of awesomeness. As usual, Sarah's magical voice soars through here, but the backup musicians are also very tight, making this not only my favorite live album, but one of my favorite Sarah McLachlan albums as well. If you are a Sarah fan, then you need this album. If you are new to her music, this is actually a great place to start as it includes songs from her first 4 albums.
One of the best live albums of the late 90s
I've heard a lot of badly recorded live albums and live albums that were marred by studio trickery after the fact. This live album is one of the few that I can say are the gold standard for live album production. The backing band is awesome, Tom Lord-Alge mixed this album so well you'd think you were there, and this album captures Sarah at the top of her game. The songs are honest, well crafted, and interpreted beautifully by a great backing band (Sean Ashby, Vince Jones, Camille Henderson, Ash Sood, Brian Minato, David Sinclair).
I'd easily put this up there with some of my other favorite live albums such as Bee Gees - One Night Only, Dire Straits - Alchemy, Genesis - Seconds Out, Eagles - Hell Freezes Over, Fleetwood Mac - The Dance, Joni Mitchell - Shadows And Light. The original release of Mirroball was my generation's Frampton Comes Alive as there were so many singles from that album all over the radio in '99/2000. If you're just getting into Sarah McLachlan, this is a good starting point.
Born: January 28, 1968 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
Top Albums and Songs by Sarah McLachlan
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