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

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
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.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links