In the 25 years since Jagged Little Pill made Alanis Morissette a household name, the album has been around the block a few times. There was an acoustic remake in 2005 and a 2015 deluxe edition and a jukebox musical is on Broadway. An urge to celebrate its 25th anniversary by performing the full album acoustically has brought Morissette to the UK for this single show. Anniversary or not, it’s surprising that she is not keeping her powder dry for the imminent release of her first studio album in eight years, with an arena tour following. Can she still do justice to its turbulence?
Having achieved happiness in her home life might mitigate against it. Between songs, there’s a mention of her 10-year marriage and “the charm of commitment” – an acknowledgment of how the wild fluctuations of the Jagged years have been supplanted by something warm and still. At times, it’s impossible to reconcile this witty, tea-sipping 45-year-old with her traumatised younger self who inhabited You Oughta Know and Your House – which she updates by changing “found your CDs” to “found your Spotify password” – and the rest.
But she hasn’t entirely left behind that phase of her life – the problems have just changed shape. If anything, her delivery of Jagged’s most lacerating tracks, especially Mary Jane and a still-boiling Right Through You (“You took me for a joke / You took me out to wine, dine, 69 me”), has intensified over the decades. Seated between two acoustic guitarists, Morissette contorts her face to drive home Mary Jane’s piercing last notes, then laughs at her resemblance to “a she-monster”.
Although her music has reached teenagers via the films Lady Bird and Booksmart, most of the crowd tonight have clearly been with her since 1995, still invested in an artist who remains out there on her own and documents those frontiers without sentimentality. Of the new songs she performs, unrest prickles both. “I tell everyone I’m fine when I’m not,” goes Reasons I Drink. She sings it, whipping her head back from the mic, with the force of the old ones.