McClelland hits stage twice a night on latest tour

Musician Melissa McClelland has no complaints about her boss on her latest tour.

Not only does the Toronto native have a vibrant solo career, with three critically acclaimed records to her name, McClelland also counts herself as a back-up singer for internationally renowned vocalist Sarah McLachlan.

McClelland will be performing as both a solo artist as well as a part of McLachlan’s backing band at the Moncton Coliseum on Monday evening. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

It was Luke Doucet, McClelland’s husband and solo artist in his own right, that introduced her to McLachlan, with him having played in the Canadian songstress’s backing band on and off for the past 17 years. McClelland says she met McLachlan when she would travel to any given city to visit Doucet while on tour.

“Luke kept suggesting me to be her backup singer and of course Sarah would say ‘Yeah of course, everybody wants their girlfriend in the band!'” McClelland says. “But by the end of the two-year tour in support of Afterglow, Sarah was suddenly stuck for a backup singer for the last five shows of the tour. I raised my hand and was given the job. I learned 24 songs in 10 days.”

As a performer on last year’s Lilith Fair Tour, McClelland admits that soft attendance at many of the tour stops caused the tour to bear the brunt of much negative publicity during a season where few concert tours were actually succeeding. She says McLachlan didn’t let the negative press impact the overall atmosphere of the tour behind the scenes, however.

“I think Lilith was held up as a failure even though most tours were tanking in terms of attendance,” she says. “But the fact is, all of the Canadian shows were very well attended and the reviews from the entire tour were overall very positive. Sarah was having the time of her life so it really was a shame to have all this negativity, including the relevance of the tour, flying back at her.”

With a future tour as a part of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe scheduled, in addition to putting the finishing touches on a collaborative record with her husband, it doesn’t appear as though McClelland is going to have much time to concentrate on recording the follow-up to 2009’s Victoria Day.

The musician playfully admits that she doesn’t have quite as many songs written for a follow-up effort as she should have at this point either.

She points blame at a piano that she and Doucet were given upon moving into their home more than three years ago.

“When we are home, you can’t tear me away from the piano. It has been really inspiring to write music on a new instrument since I am so accustomed to writing on the guitar only.”

Article published in March 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript