Lilith Fair (Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre; 15,416 capacity; $ 46 top) Presented by Avalon. Performers: Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Cassandra Wilson, Leah Andreone, Mudgirl, Kinnie Starr, Lauren Hoffman. Reviewed July 9, 1997. With concert promoters ever on the lookout for a fresh look to drum up box office, they've taken a quick shine to Lilith Fair, Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan's distaff twist on Lollapalooza. After four successive sell-outs at sheds to begin the tour, audiences seem downright enraptured to partake in nearly eight hours of their favorite female performers --- even drawing the likes of such celebs as Fran Drescher and Matthew Perry to orchestra-level seating in some sort of weird "Sitcom Row." An impromptu appearance by Paula Cole on the tiny Village stage --- amongst the many consciousness-raising booths and plenty of commerce --- started the day. Midday sets followed from such up-and-comers as the emotive Leah Andreone (a debut on RCA) and the jazzy Cassandra Wilson on the Second Stage, where the roster of artists varies from city to city as much as the mainstage lineup. The pale-skinned, black-clad Suzanne Vega took to the latter under the mellowing glare of the late-afternoon sun. The warm tones of the guitar and voice of this now-veteran troubadour (her "Marlene on the Wall" dates back to 1985) were even more supple on cuts from her latest A&M release, "Nine Objects of Desire," including the bossa nova-like "Caramel." Cole returned in earnest, playing piano and dancing about in an outfit that displayed her midriff just as prominently as it's exposed in the video for her Warner Bros. hit "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" The most animated of the mainstage acts, Cole's fist-pumping half-hour seemed especially invigorated by her inclusion on this bill and the attention she's received since the demise of Imago. Atlantic's Jewel certainly didn't opt for a demure folkie look, either, what with her hot pants and heels. But even with that, and an apparent attempt to toughen up her set list with a cover of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot," ably delivered by her band, she still couldn't seem to overcome the preciousness of "You Were Meant for Me" or the melodramatic "Foolish Games." Tracy Chapman's perf seemed almost redemptive, as she garnered the greatest response from an already receptive and attentive crowd. Spanning a repertoire from her Elektra debut as a best new artist Grammy-winner ("Fast Car") through some far less well-received releases to yet a re-visit to NARAS and critical acclaim ("Give Me One Reason"), she remained ever-humble in the face of several ovations and other silky veils of ardor. Headliner McLachlan opted to premiere several new songs from "Surfacing" to close this fourth night of the tour, as the followup to her successful "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" (Arista/Nettwerk) won't be released until July 15. The songs remain in the pensive, often ethereal vein of her hit "Possession" and other earlier releases. Dressed in an elegant floor-length black dress and a shawl around her waist (and with the wedding ring from her recent marriage to her longtime drummer catching the light as she strummed her guitar), the singer-songwriter befit the role of proud matriarch to a highly acclaimed new summer festival that she's already promised will return next year.

Lilith Fair (Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre; 15,416 capacity; $ 46 top) Presented by Avalon. Performers: Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Cassandra Wilson, Leah Andreone, Mudgirl, Kinnie Starr, Lauren Hoffman. Reviewed July 9, 1997. With concert promoters ever on the lookout for a fresh look to drum up box office, they’ve taken a quick shine to Lilith Fair, Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan’s distaff twist on Lollapalooza. After four successive sell-outs at sheds to begin the tour, audiences seem downright enraptured to partake in nearly eight hours of their favorite female performers — even drawing the likes of such celebs as Fran Drescher and Matthew Perry to orchestra-level seating in some sort of weird “Sitcom Row.” An impromptu appearance by Paula Cole on the tiny Village stage — amongst the many consciousness-raising booths and plenty of commerce — started the day. Midday sets followed from such up-and-comers as the emotive Leah Andreone (a debut on RCA) and the jazzy Cassandra Wilson on the Second Stage, where the roster of artists varies from city to city as much as the mainstage lineup. The pale-skinned, black-clad Suzanne Vega took to the latter under the mellowing glare of the late-afternoon sun. The warm tones of the guitar and voice of this now-veteran troubadour (her “Marlene on the Wall” dates back to 1985) were even more supple on cuts from her latest A&M release, “Nine Objects of Desire,” including the bossa nova-like “Caramel.” Cole returned in earnest, playing piano and dancing about in an outfit that displayed her midriff just as prominently as it’s exposed in the video for her Warner Bros. hit “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” The most animated of the mainstage acts, Cole’s fist-pumping half-hour seemed especially invigorated by her inclusion on this bill and the attention she’s received since the demise of Imago. Atlantic’s Jewel certainly didn’t opt for a demure folkie look, either, what with her hot pants and heels. But even with that, and an apparent attempt to toughen up her set list with a cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” ably delivered by her band, she still couldn’t seem to overcome the preciousness of “You Were Meant for Me” or the melodramatic “Foolish Games.” Tracy Chapman’s perf seemed almost redemptive, as she garnered the greatest response from an already receptive and attentive crowd. Spanning a repertoire from her Elektra debut as a best new artist Grammy-winner (“Fast Car”) through some far less well-received releases to yet a re-visit to NARAS and critical acclaim (“Give Me One Reason”), she remained ever-humble in the face of several ovations and other silky veils of ardor. Headliner McLachlan opted to premiere several new songs from “Surfacing” to close this fourth night of the tour, as the followup to her successful “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” (Arista/Nettwerk) won’t be released until July 15. The songs remain in the pensive, often ethereal vein of her hit “Possession” and other earlier releases. Dressed in an elegant floor-length black dress and a shawl around her waist (and with the wedding ring from her recent marriage to her longtime drummer catching the light as she strummed her guitar), the singer-songwriter befit the role of proud matriarch to a highly acclaimed new summer festival that she’s already promised will return next year.

Lilith Fair

Reviewed July 9, 1997 - Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre; 15,416 capacity; $46 top

Production

Presented by Avalon.

Cast

Performers: Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Cassandra Wilson, Leah Andreone, Mudgirl, Kinnie Starr, Lauren Hoffman.
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