Alanis Morissette – review

Apollo, Manchester

"You sound great!" beams Alanis Morisette, holding the microphone towards the crowd bellowing along with Ironic. It comes from her third album Jagged Little Pill, which, in 1995, made her an international superstar at 21. Now, 17 years on, her audience adore those songs so much they even act out Hand in My Pocket, slapping palms to the line "giving a high five." But the same high fivers chatter away frustratingly during new songs from her excellent forthcoming album Havoc and Bright Lights.

There are worse albatrosses to carry than a 33m-selling album, and Morissette hasn't always pushed herself too hard to escape it. There has been a Jagged acoustic album and here, the long-locked Canadian plays seven of its songs – more than a third of the setlist – to a riotous reception. But, however delicately, she is trying to move on, and the absurdly anthemic newie Guardian may be her best song of this century.

In the 90s, she was an angry young woman whose big lungs spat vengeance at an unfaithful lover, which happily coincided with the fashion for grungy guitars and female confessionals. Now 38, she is a married mother with quietly touching songs pondering the troubles and joys of maturity, domesticity and stardom, but she can still do anguished fury. The new song Woman Down offers out internet "haters". You Oughta Know still sounds so demented that you can almost hear the hiss of bunnies boiling as the audience bellow the infamous line: "Is she perverted like me? Would she go down on you in a theatre?" But she sings them with a grin.

Perhaps, in time, her audience will appreciate newies such as Numb, ironically about how a fixed smile can hide an emotional cauldron. In the meantime, out come more of those old signature anthems, and the bellowing starts again.

Contributor

Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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