Alanis Morissette, Brixton Academy, London
Monday 23 June 2008
Thinking of going to see Alanis Morissette? Think again. Save the money of the ticket price and buy a copy of Jagged Little Pill, the Grammy award-winning album that made the Canadian singer's name back in 1995, instead. While Morissette may still be capable of filling venues such as the Brixton Academy 13 years on, it was only the alternation of classic vintage songs and forgettable new material that kept the audience from drifting into a coma.
The show was peculiar from the outset, with Morissette singing most of the opening number from the wings – leaving her eager fans to contemplate a huge mural-style backdrop while listening to "Moratorium", a track taken from her latest studio album, Flavors of Entanglement.
Written following her split from her fiancé, the actor Ryan Reynolds – who entered into a relationship with the actress Scarlett Johansson shortly afterwards – the singer has said that the album chronicles the emotional journey she has been on, from "hitting rock bottom" to "the phoenix rising". While such experiences should have provided perfect fodder for the sort of angst-ridden rock that Morissette did brilliantly at her peak, she fails to convey these extremes in her new songs.
A catchy beat, good electric guitars solos and real energy make "Citizen of the Planet" a stand-out track from the latest batch, despite its weak lyrics.
An energetic performance of "All I Really Want" serves as a reminder of why Jagged Little Pill should go down in the annals as one of the greatest albums of all time, seeming fresher than her new material. When Morissette launches into a great rendition of the haunting "Perfect", there is an awed silence from the crowd, many of whom are clearly less familiar with her more recent songs.
While "Eight Easy Steps", "Versions" and "Tapers" are all enjoyable songs, none of them are good enough to really get the crowd going. A track from her Under Rug Swept album, "That Particular Time", is so bland that it almost strays into soft-rock territory, with stream-of-consciousness lyrics that are virtually unintelligible.
It is only when Morissette performs old favourites such as "Hand in My Pocket" that we see a talent that has helped her shift 40 million albums. It's no accident that she saves the best track until the end. If Jagged Little Pill was one of the defining albums of the 1990s, "Ironic" is an anthem of the era, and the hundreds of people singing along are reluctant to forget it.
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