THE CRITICS: ROCK & POP: Whinge on, Alanis

Alanis Morissette Arena, Newcastle Celine Dion Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield

Alanis Morissette and Celine Dion have much more in common than their unusually long chins. Both women are Canadian. Both have sold unimaginable numbers of records: Celine has shifted 100 million albums, while Morissette lags behind with 38 million. And both, though still young, are show-business veterans. Dion, 31, signed up with her current manager when she was just 12 years old. Morissette, 25, was a sitcom star at the age of 10. With cvs like that, it's no wonder that both women have a skewed perception of the relationship between life and art.

The press coverage of Morissette's 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill, focused less on the music than on the unblushingly frank disclosures of anger and resentment in the lyrics. I don't know if Morissette has read too much of her own press, but she seemed to believe, when recording a follow- up, that pouring out an avalanche of feelings was enough - never mind that on Jagged Little Pill the emotional rubble had been sculpted into jagged little shards. And so, last year's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is as clumsily wordy as its title. The lyrics pile up without rhyme, reason or scansion and the resultant confusion of Oprah and operatics makes a confessional newspaper column seem like a sonnet.

As Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac, that's not writing, it's typing. And as he would have said if he'd seen Morissette in concert, that's not performing, it's sloping to one side of the stage and then trudging back again, as wearily as if she were weighed down by the hair that hangs all the way down her back. Sometimes, for variety's sake, she clumped backwards instead, which might explain why her band stayed safely in the dimly-lit rear of the stage. More likely, though, they were just embarrassed by the plodding racket they made.

On record and on stage, Morissette relies on your being charmed by her floppy, bohemian cuteness, a contingency which was less remote when she was a righteous avenger with songs like daggers than it is now that she has abandoned songs for egotistical Californian psycho-gush.

If Morissette's music is all feelings and no artifice, Celine Dion's is the opposite. Whether she is furrowing her brow, gazing pleadingly or smiling dreamily, the expressions on the video screens above the heart- shaped stage on Tuesday were those of a TV-movie actress. Her window-rattling vocals, too, tick off all the techniques of hammy emoting: the coloraturas, the pause before a song's final phrase, the transposition of the last verse up a tone. Dion hits every high note, but she always strikes a false note.

Her performance is unbelievable. Not unbelievably good or bad ... just not believable. When she nudges the pony-tailed keyboard player or the pony-tailed bassist it seems as spontaneous and fun as a state funeral; when she strokes her sparkly white trousers on "Declaration Of Love", it's as sexy as a toothbrush. Celine Dion, you're thinking, makes Bob Monkhouse seem sincere; but then a more terrifying truth dawns. As far as she is concerned, this is sincerity.

A few songs into the concert, she announced in her French-Canadian accent that she wanted to speak "personally" to all 50,000 of us. "Rene is doin' fine," she said. She meant Rene Angelil, her husband, who is recovering from skin-cancer surgery. He is also the man, 26 years her senior, who began managing her when she was 12. "I didn't want to leave him," said Dion. "But I wanted to be here tonight to thank you for all your prayers and positive energy." She then revealed that thanks to "a little technical magic", the show was being beamed across to Angelil in Florida. "He is right here with us."

Later, she concludes a special song for her husband with a wink and a nose-rubbing gesture at the camera, and you have to wonder if it's for our benefit or for Angelil's ... or if she doesn't see the distinction. Is bawling in a stadium no different to her than chatting to Rene on the sofa? The issue came into focus when the Bee Gees appeared on the video screens to harmonise on "Immortality", as Barbra Streisand had done a few songs earlier. "It's great to be here, Celine," said one of the brothers Gibb. "How's the show going?" Dion replied that it was going well and thanked them for writing the song for her. The brothers nodded modestly.

Well, sort of. The men Dion was chatting to were not actually in the stadium and they weren't linked to it by satellite. Their contribution was pre-recorded. And Dion sounded just as sincere when she spoke to these video images as she did when she spoke of Angelil.

In Dion's mind, cheesy cabaret banter seems to be the same as heart- to-heart discussions of her husband's health. Talking to her spouse is the same as talking to the virtual Bee Gees, which is the same as talking to the thousands of people who have paid pounds 50 a ticket to watch her. She's been blasting out schlocky, schmaltzy show-stoppers non-stop since she was a girl, guided by a manager who married her, so maybe she doesn't know any better.

Perhaps all great pop stars put their feelings in song, but a filtering artistry is always there. It has to be. If you transcribed an intimate tete-a-tete with your loved one, you wouldn't have a lyric. Conversely, if you promised eternal devotion to your loved one using nothing but a lyric, they'd assume you were mad.

There's the rub. Dion thinks entertainment is the same as conversation; Morissette thinks conversation is the same as entertainment. Dion thinks her public life is her private life; Morissette thinks her private life is her public life. Maybe if these two women made a record together ... no, actually it doesn't bear thinking about, but it would sell a billion copies and it would be called Let's Talk About Unabashedly Tumultuous Colonic Spiritualisation. The moral of the story: don't put your daughters on the stage, Mrs Morissette and Mrs Dion. They may never get off it.

Alanis Morissette: Wembley Arena (0181 900 1234), Wed & Thurs. Celine Dion: Wembley Stadium (0181 900 1234), tonight

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot