Alanis Morissette and her five piece band put on a nearly two hour show at Metropolis on a cool Monday evening. It was a show which attempted to please all fans old and new as the set list alternated new and old songs all night long.
It was hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that her monster album Jagged Little Pill was released seventeen years ago and this (once) angry (once) young woman is now 38-years-old and a mother. Took a while for it to sink in that such an amount of time had really passed in seemingly a blink of an eye.
The last time I saw Alanis live was during the Jagged Little Pill tour in the late 90s. I was younger and so was she. I remembered her has an artist that hid behind her long hair and paced in circles around the stage. Dial forward a decade and a half and she has become a little more accessible on stage and she still has plenty of hair and energy, which she used to pace back and forth rhythmically across the front of the stage. Though the hair is out of her face for the most part and she was smiling constantly there was still a little barrier between her and the crowd. It is obvious that music is a very mystical and spiritual experience for her. That seems to lead to her looking inwards rather than connecting with her audience. Now please remember I am not a mental Alanis fan and that observation is coming from an impartial observer who does go to a lot of concerts. Her fans did not seem to notice or mind one iota.
Another complaint I have is the sound. Now to be upfront I was at the back of the room on the first floor. At the back of the floor at Metropolis the ceiling is quite low due to the balcony seats above and as a result it is not exactly vocals friendly. But Alanis does not exactly help her cause out. When she is singing her rockier tunes she uses a lower register and tends to mumble instead of projecting her powerful voice. When she sang in her upper register sound was not problem, but when singing lower it was hard to hear the words.
Now that I’ve broached the subject of her voice, I guess we should delve deeper into it. Her voice has always been a divisive subject with some loving its quirks and others not being able to tolerate them. I’ve always thought of Alanis as Canada’s female version of Our Lady Peace lead singer, Raine Maida. While she does have a good voice there have been detractors due to the stylized way she presents it on occasion and all the whoops and hollers seem to get in the way for some folks. There can be no debate that the girl can sing, however, and that she is in complete control of what she does vocally.
Highlights of the evening for me was during the songs “Ironic” and “You Learn” when a large portion of the crowd took over the lead vocal duties from Morissette and the two encores. The two encores really cemented for me that the long-haired Canadian is around 10 years removed from writing her strongest songs. The old stuff really stood out as much better and anthemic than her newer stuff. Also the first encore in which she sang three songs was done acoustically with her sitting on a chair in the middle of the stage. Her vocals were so much clearer when presented in this format. I was not straining to catch the lyrics.
The opening act was kept in the family as it was Alanis’s husband Souleye. While he might be a talented rapper it really wasn’t the right tour for him. Her fans are not fans that like his music. It was odd on this night to listen to a guy rap over music supplied by a DJ and laptop. The only bright spot was when Alanis came out to supply some vocals on the last song. His eight song set could not have been over fast enough for this crowd.
1) I Remain (Part 1)
2) Woman Down
3) All I Really Want
4) You Learn
6) Mary Jane
7) Edge of Evolution
8) Right Through You
9) So Pure
12) Head Over Feet
14) I Remain (Part 2)
16) You Oughta Know
18) Hands Clean
20) Hand Clean
21) Thank U