Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Alanis Morissette: Flavors of Entertainment

Alanis Morissette, North American Tour, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, October 7:
78RPM and Litchik, their partners 33RPM and Funderwoman, and favorite friend and WB contributor Eighth Chakra took time out from a busy midweek to immerse themselves in a loud, energy-charged dose of rock 'n roll Girl Power on Tuesday night.

The show opened with the sudden and unannounced appearance of a quiet, almost apologetic, and genuinely grateful Alexi Murdoch, an acoustic balladeer from Scotland who instantly called up the ghost of Nick Drake circa "Pink Moon." (One of Murdoch's closing tunes was title "Orange Sky." Coincidence?) Telling the audience numerous times that they were "amazing" for listening and applauding, and that he didn't always find crowds responsive in those ways, Murdoch sang beautifully and well, although with far too much silent guitar tuning going on for too long between songs. (Even this wasn't a problem for Eighth Chakra, who said: "He's tall and thin and British. So I love him.")

After an extended interval between Murdoch's minimal-equipment set being cleared away and the lights finally dimming again, Alanis Morissette ran onstage with a supertight five-piece band behind her, ready to treat her audience to a nicely balanced sampling of her full discography including her latest CD, Flavors of Entanglement. Luckily, she chose to forego the dance/techno-flavored tracks from that disc, opening the show with a pair of heavy, haunting, North African-tinged stompers — "Uninvited" (from the 1998 City of Angels soundtrack) and "Versions of Violence" (from Flavors) — that let her prowl every inch of the stage in motorcycle boots while swinging her lion's mane of black hair under a dazzling light display. It was clear that the night of soft ballads had ended when the opening act had exited stage left.

All of the classic monster hits from Jagged Little Pill were in the mix, along with a strong representation from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, and the audience knew them word for word and note for note, letting Morissette simply hold the microphone out toward the crowd while they sang and she smiled. Although each of the tracks were slowed down and rearranged just enough to make them new and different, they were comfortable reminders that the small woman with the big voice on stage, although only 34, was a survivor of decades in "the industry" and still going strong.

There's a lot of mental room that needs to be made for Morissette's lyrics, especially during songs like "Sympathetic Character" (from Junkie):

I was afraid you'd hit me if I'd spoken up I was
afraid of your physical strength I was afraid
you'd hit me below the belt I was afraid of your
sucker punch I was afraid of your reducing me

Messages like this were accompanied by single words — "No," "Stop," "Me" — shining on a silk screen behind the band, in the technique used by Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie and giving even more power and meaning to the lyrics. The musicians, dominated by powerhouse drummer Victor Indrizzo, never hit a bad note even in the most challenging minor-chord arpeggios, the musical segues between songs were masterful, and the band repaid the audience's clearly expressed gratitude with three separate encores, finally closing with a track from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, the aptly named "Thank U."

Our thanks to Rosy Romano at for quick and friendly discussion of show details and band info.

1 comment:

Rosy said...

It was a pleasure man :)
Thanks for the help!