By Martin Cizmar
See more shots in our Alanis Morissette slide show.
It’s always amazing to me how long a massively huge album can reverberate, even if it’s not terribly influential or the subject of any significant critical acclaim. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill – the tenth biggest selling album of all time and either the biggest or second biggest selling album of the 90s, depending on which numbers you use – still has sway with people of a certain age, as was on display at Dodge Theatre last night.
Opener Alexi Murdoch has heard a few too many Nick Drake records. His boring brand of coffeehouse folk, consisting of only an acoustic guitar and his Scottish brogue, seemed to delight plenty of people in the crowd though, as they yelled out to declare their love for him between songs.
Wearing a black shirt, pants, and boots with a silver sequined vest, Alanis still looked like the girl who’d released JLP, 13 years ago, and she was received as such by a crowd that included everyone from college lesbians to middle-aged professional men who sang along unabashedly with or without a female companion at their side.
Taking the stage with “Uninvited,” Morissette showed that can deliver the same potent vocals live that she does on record. Banging her long hair around the stage between verses, she also showed she wasn’t taking things any easier than she had in her younger years. After a much duller song from her new record, Flavors Of Entanglement, Alanis dove in to a version of “All I Really Want” accented by funky guitar and her harmonica. After “Not The Doctor,” one of Pill’s lesser-known tracks, she raised the curtain backing her stage to reveal a large mural of her face, a flower and a flock of birds in a forest of leafless trees.
“Head Over Feet,” played on an acoustic guitar with the same sweet vocals that made the original such a joy, was the highpoint of the evening, with Alanis looking perfectly in her element. My friend Ashley also got a kick out of the “best friends with benefits” line, which she apparently hadn’t translated in her younger years. “I just got that,” she said.
“Sympathetic Character,” from her JLP follow-up, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was one of the night’s most boring offerings, but it lead in to a sparse, murky version of “You Oughta Know” which started a more aggressive middle of the set. After a roadie militia constructed an more intimate, unplugged-style setting between songs, Alanis finished things out with “Hand in My Pocket,” “So Pure,” “You Learn” and “Ironic.”
The second encore, though, topped those. And, shockingly, it wasn’t anything off JLP or a clever cover of a Fergie song. After a night of Alanis old and new, it turns out “Thank U” might just be the most enduring track in Alanis’ catalogue. How about that.
Last Night: Alanis Morissette at Dodge Theatre on November 11.
Better Than: Full House reruns.
Personal Bias: I think it’s a shame Glen Ballard, the producer and co-writer on JLP, never gets his due, and that Morissette hasn’t worked with him again recently.
Random Detail: So if Come on Over and Jagged Little Pill are the two biggest selling albums of the 90s, then Canadian women owned the decade. Weird. Depending on which charts you look at, Celine Dion could have the third and fourth biggest sellers, making the top four albums of the decade all by Canadian women? That’s more than coincidence.
Further Listening: The infamous comedy routine which pointed out how un-ironic Alanis’ song was.
By the Way: I can’t believe I never knew this, but Dave Navarro played guitar and Flea played bass on the album version of “You Oughta Know.” That almost sounded like an urban legend to me, so I dug out my well-played copy and it’s totally true.
Photos by Victor J. Palagano