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Lilith Fair is … fair

Languishing Lilith downsizes for a night at the Beach

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Just another manic Friday: The Bangles perform Lilith-style
Photo: Corlene Byrd

The Details

Lilith Fait
July 9, Mandalay Bay Beach
Three stars
Sarah McLachlan at Mandalay Bay Beach

Sarah McLachlan at Mandalay Bay Beach

Canceled dates. Artists dropping out. Tickets selling for as little as $10 in some markets. The resurrected Lilith Fair, touring for the first time since 1999, has had its share of problems this summer, and in Vegas it was downgraded from the Mandalay Bay Events Center to the Mandalay Bay Beach, with Marina and the Diamonds, Queen Latifah and Emmylou Harris gone from the original announced bill. Still, the turnout was good for the Beach — although it looked like everyone there would have maybe filled the floor of the Events Center — and the crowd seemed not to mind the reduced lineup, wading in the wave pool and cheering for the three remaining main-stage acts: The Bangles, Miranda Lambert and festival founder Sarah McLachlan (a second stage hosted four smaller acts in a small lounge inside the casino earlier in the evening).

It was an odd lineup, certainly, with the past-their-prime '80s new-wavers in The Bangles leading into Lambert's modern country and McLachlan's ethereal singer-songwriter fare. The venue, too, was a strange place for this sort of show, an event all about women's empowerment that could be perceived as antithetical to the Vegas beach-party experience. That female power seemed at least half like a marketing gimmick, though; I was assaulted with offers of free samples of Luna Bars, Degree Body Mist and Crystal Light moments after entering the venue. A tent near the back of the beach was labeled the Lilipad Lounge, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and offering samples of that company's various tampon brands.

Onstage, the artists mostly stuck to the music, and the performances were all solid, although The Bangles seemed like they were sorta going through the motions. Lambert, perhaps concerned that there weren't enough country-music fans in the audience, opened her set by asking, "Are you ready for some rock 'n' roll tonight?" The sedate crowd responded dutifully, as it did to McLachlan's hit-packed headlining set. The show closed with the traditional Lilith jam, to Patti Smith's "Because the Night," although McLachlan had to break out a lyric sheet for the other performers, who looked a bit lost. It was well-meaning but sort of a mess, much like the tour itself.

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