Amid reports of cancellations and soft ticket sales, a relaunched Lilith Festival kicked off Sunday night (27) at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta.
The female-fronted fest, co-founded by Sarah McLachlan, is back after an 11-year hiatus. McLachlan is on every date. Among the 100 artists playing at least one show are Sheryl Crow, Sugarland, Mary J. Blige, Martina McBride, Sia, Queen Latifah, Colbie Caillat and many more. With the rumor that more cancellations were coming, dates in Nashville and Phoenix have already been pulled off the slate. The opening show drew around 9,000 (out of a capacity of 11,000), many of them walk-ups. Many new reports said snafus kept fans waiting in line for more tha an hour.
Reviews were mainly positive, but some outlets found the environment sterile. USA Today, which praised performances by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Sheryl Crow, Sugarland and McLachlan, also noted that the Lilith Village, which features baby bands and vendor stand hardly set the right tone for the festival:, “A few audience members tried to get into the festival spirit by putting down blankets on the asphalt, but for the most part the dispirited crowd just stood around. The lack of festival atmosphere permeated the main stadium area, which was devoid of folksy festival touches such as vegetarian food stands and craft vendors.”
The Vancouver Sun also praised Crow: Sheryl Crow had the crowd on their feet from her first song. Her soaring run through Our Love is Fading, from upcoming album 100 Miles from Memphis, established a R&B revue-type groove right from the start. It was followed up by a soulful take on Every Day is a Winding Road, in which she played up the festival's maternal feel by having her funky toddler dance along with some shakers. She was already having the crowd sing along by song three, a powerful charge through Can't Cry Anymore that morphed into a cover of Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now.
The Calgary Sun loved Crow, Erykah Badu and Sugarland, but saved some of its most radiant praise for Canadian favorite daughter, McLachlan: "Her voice was as beautiful as ever as she ran through such classics and 'Angel,' ' Aida' and 'Building a Mystery' as well as new material from her latest album, 'Laws of Illusion'."
Despite any money woes, Lilith remains committed to donating $1 from every ticket sold to a local charity: Sunday night, McLachlan presented a $9,000 check to the Calgary Women’s Shelter.
The tour continues tonight in Edmonton, Alberta. For a complete schedule, go to www.lilithfair.com.