Sarah McLachlin in ChicagoThirty years ago, Sarah McLachlan released her third studio album - "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy." It was her most successful album to date, although "Surfacing" would surpass its popularity a few years later.

McLachlan launched a North American tour to celebrate the "Fumbling" anniversary. I saw her Chicago stop Tuesday evening at the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island.

The show was so popular that the entrance line stretched out to Solidarity Drive and well down the block.

It was worth the wait.

McLachlan began her show with songs from throughout her long career, including hits like "Adia" and "I Will Remember You." Although she sang a few upbeat songs, Sarah is at her best when she brings down the pace, singing love songs, melancholy ballads, or haunting ethereal music on which she built her career. In between, she told stories of her daughters, her father, and her friends. She acknowledged that "Adia" was about her feelings when she knew she had hurt a close friend with whom she later reconciled.

She also used the opportunity to promote her non-profit: a music school for underprivileged youth. A dollar of each ticket sold went to the students.

Her tour band was solid, but even the instrumental focus remained on McLachlan this night. Many of her songs that night began and ended with Sarah on a piano solo., On some songs, she accompanied herself without the rest of her band.

After ten songs, the Canadian artist changed costumes and performed every track from "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy" in the same order as appears on the album. She gave a moving interpretation of this very personal album. Sarah and the audience each have a connection to these songs and this period, and the performer allowed us to share that connection.

She said a brief "goodbye" after performing the final and title track but returned within minutes for a two-song encore.

For her encore, she came on stage alone and played "Gravity," a new song that will appear on an upcoming album. It was just her, a piano, and a spotlight. Her bandmates came on stage for the second and final encore song, but they did not touch their instruments - instead, supplying backing vocals on her hit song "Angel."

McLachlan's reminiscences were not energetic, as some concerts tend to be. But her emotion brought a different energy to the venue and her fans.