Sarah McLachlan

Afterglow Live

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Listening to Sarah McLachlan perform live is a lot like listening to her records. Like 1999's multi-platinum-selling Mirrorball, Afterglow Live relies on the breathy Canadian's fluid and faultless vocals and performances -- by McLachlan and band alike -- that are so spot-on that they may well have been cut in the studio. A backhanded compliment for sure, but isn't it the artist's job to paint a picture from the ground up or disassemble it in new and creative ways so that her minions can marvel at the process as opposed to just the end product? The recording follows the singer through her summer tour, a jaunt that ended up in her hometown of Vancouver -- the 15 tracks are culled from a pair of shows in Toronto. While heavy on material from the 2003 release that gives the record its name, McLachlan classics like "Building a Mystery" and "Sweet Surrender" sound as reliable as ever, but the real meat here is the accompanying 23-track DVD. The behind-the-scenes footage, live performances, and videos, specifically director Sophie Muller's confrontational short for "World on Fire," which features McLachlan performing over displays that compare the costs of video production with those of food and medical supplies, are far more interesting than the snooze of a live CD that makes up this polarizing collection's second half.

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