Sarah McLachlan’s relatively meteoric rise from clubs like the Troubadour to big amphitheaters — capped by the success this summer of her Lilith Fair tour of women performers — has long been a point of contentious dis-cussion among members of Solace, an informal Internet group of McLachlan fans.
But as the gifted 29-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter vividly demonstrated Saturday at the sold-out Universal Amphitheatre, she’s still more than capable of delivering the same passionate show as when she tread the club boards just a couple years back, albeit with a bit more mainstream flavor these days.
Despite McLachlan’s increased popularity — her recent album “Surfacing” (Arista) is her second straight platinum-certified effort — the demure vocalist radiated with glowing warmth and undeniable charm as she took her audience on what she called a “ride on the emotional roller-coaster.”
Only occasionally did the trappings that come with big rock shows get in the way, like the elaborate lighting rigs and overdone keyboard swooshes that ruined her 1993 song “Hold On.”
Indeed, when McLachlan brought the mood and the lights and the music down a few notches was when she was most enjoyable.
Passionate songs like “I Love You,” a sad tale about the romantic road not traveled; “Ice,” which McLachlan accu-rately described as “depressing”; and the heartbreaking “Do What You Have To Do,” which she sang while playing the piano, all wrapped themselves around the eager fans like a warm embrace, and were greeted by the audience with hearty applause and constant shouts (from men and women) of “I love you, Sarah!”