The first thing my wife and I noticed about this gig was the fact they’d halved the arena by putting the stage in the centre of the floor, which looked odd. The second thing we noticed was the lack of punters. The third was that Alanis has a huge lesbian and gay following and the fourth was how small she is. She’s like a Canuck Kylie. I digress..Music-wise, she’s impressive, and her voice is amazing.
Date: November 29, 2012
Venue: Motorpoint Arena Nottingham
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Alanis Morissette had become something of a hermit, living in a secluded Canadian outpost and surviving only off Vegan food and memories prior to 1998 when, in fairness, that was about the time when the UK stopped caring and brushed her aside.
But between then and now, Alanis has actually been busy writing a plethora of albums, making numerous appearances on influential US TV shows and generally being creative. It’s just that us Brits were oblivious to this because we all own Jagged Little Pill, and that’s the only Alanis album you need, right?
Wrong, because her expansive oeuvre is well worth investigating, and her recent record, Havoc and Bright Lights, is at the zenith of this stealth-like existence, and she is deserved of some recognition this side of the pond.
And what better way to re-establish yourself in a country that has forsaken you? Embark on a comeback arena tour of course, and remind people of what they’ve been missing.
Unfortunately, that plan didn’t quite come off. The arena has been halved, with the stage plonked right in the centre of the floor, and it seems British apathy remains as empty seats and a less than packed floor await her.
But the show must go on, and when it does, as she finally emerges, having sung the first strains of I Remain from beyond the stage as her band play without her, that unmistakeable, iconic voice pierces the atmosphere, and as she bursts into fellow album track, Woman Down, she’s back with a vengeance.
Those who simply came to reminisce over the summer of ’95 when they first heard Jagged aren’t disappointed. All I Really Want sets that behemoth growling, followed by You Learn, Head Over Feet, You Oughta Know et al, with the icing on the cake being her monolithic success story, Ironic, which she allows the crowd to sing back at her. And they do, in almost total unison. It’s a classic example of how to unite an audience.
However, it’s not the highlight. That accolade goes to Uninvited, in which Alanis displays a split personality, tossing and turning from lost soul to demented femme fatale in a dark and brooding rock opera that Muse can only dream of.
Recent single Guardian is the pick from her latest record, and sees her strum her golden spangly guitar, emphasising her many talents, which also include playing the harmonica, having a mezzo-soprano range and managing to have found a way of halting the aging process. Seriously, she hasn’t changed in 20 years!
Backed ably by her band who, by the way, plough through the entire handbook entitled Rock Posturing Level One, with some quintessential stadium rock moves including the back-to-back strum, the pogo and, yes, the windmill, Alanis’ searching voice is given the augmentation it deserves.
Each song is a potent reminder that this is a woman who has amassed 66 million album sales globally, and as a stripped back rendition of One Hand In My Pocket and the quite stunning Thank U help close the show, as reminders go, this was a forceful jab to the solar plexus.
Those that stayed away perhaps assumed she’d lost it, or had become stale. But the truth is she’s as vibrant and dynamic now as she’s ever been. Those absentees would’ve loved it. Isn’t that ironic.