Alanis Morissette closes her European tour in Liverpool, and as Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury discovers, while her angst may have faded she still packs an almighty vocal punch.
If only the angsty, angry Alanis Morissette of 1995 could see herself now.
Seventeen years after the release of Jagged Little Pill – her spitting, simmering and savagely honest expression of broken relationships and female frustrations – she stands before an adoring crowd in the ECHO Arena as a thoroughly contented, 38-year-old mother.
Alanis emerges in silhouette, shrouded in darkness behind the tribal drums of I Remain before launching into Woman Down from her latest and eighth studio album, Havoc and Bright Lights.
Any concerns she may neglect her back catalogue in favour of more recent material are soon dispelled as a psychedelic take on All I Really Want, with her harmonica and her guitarist’s lead lines delivered in hazy harmony, brings the first big cheer of the night and sets a sea of camera phones alight over the standing section.
It is only right that Jagged Little Pill, the record responsible for more than half of her 60m record sales, forms a huge chunk of the set. You Learn follows as she assures the Liverpool audience she “couldn’t think of a better place” to bring her European tour to an end.
A siege of swirling Pearl Jam guitars and beats break out on Right Through You before a mass singalong on Ironic, Alanis opting to change some of the lyrics: “It’s meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful… husband.”
Her new tunes get an airing – power ballad-by-numbers stuff on Guardian, piano ballad-by-numbers on Havoc – and while they don’t draw the same reaction as the classics they certainly don’t sound out of place in an 11,000 capacity venue; there is still no register her voice isn’t strong on and still no octave she cannot reach.
Head Over Feet and You Oughta Know may lack the punch and potency of her 90s performances, but while her mood may have mellowed her vocals still effortlessly carry the songs.
On Uninvited she almost gives the game away though, losing her footing while attempting to roll back the years and rock out, headbanging and strobe lights proving too dangerous a combination.
Her voice shines through in even sharper focus during the encore as the band move to the front of the stage and get the acoustic guitars out. Heart of the House, Hands Clean and One Hand In My Pocket – complete with high five actions from most of the audience – are all warmly received before she returns to the stage for the final time for Thank U.
A wry, knowing smile may have replaced the resentment and the overspilling emotions have long since returned below the surface, but Alanis’ set shows she still possesses a singular vocal talent.