Having been on a nostalgic kick lately, I decided to head to the Sound Academy on Monday night to see Alanis Morissette. The Ottawa born, LA based singer was returning to Toronto after a four year absence to promote her new album Havoc and Bright Lights, which has already spawned a hit single Guardian. I know this because I heard it on the radio the one time I listened to the radio this year. You can’t beat those odds.
But let’s face it, I (and a majority of the packed crowd) was here to hear selected cuts from her defining album, Jagged Little Pill. For the younger types, it was just an album that had that one hit song about Dave Coulier and that other hit song that is about irony but really isn’t. That was the impression I got when telling people I was going to the show. Having looked back at that album, it’s staggering how successful it was:
- 4 songs that despite yourself, you know 90% of the lyrics to
- 33 million records sold world wide
- 16 million in the US alone
- 13th highest selling album of all time (ALL TIME!)
Which brings us back to the Sound Academy. The Alanis Morissette show played out pretty much as I had imagined. The singer (who doesn’t look like she has aged since the JLP days) came out a rapturous ovation by the crowd, which mainly consisted of 30-40 year old women. I should have started a pop up Cosmo bar next door, it could have paid my rent for a year. The crowd friendly set list featured Alanis manically pacing around the stage, dancing like Natalie Portman circa Garden State or headbanging to a bevvy of hits, while sprinkling a bit of new tracks here and there. I wonder if it’s frustrating for artists with iconic albums to try and connect with the audience on new music. I guess that frustration is dulled by the thousands of dollars that come in every night. Despite some curious sound mixing decisions, most of the newer tracks (except the track Celebrity, which I find to be just too much of a reach) sounded good in a “most of my stuff is now on contemporary adult radio stations and I have to perform it as such” kind of way.
Obviously, hit singles such as You Learn, Ironic and You Oughta Know elicited major sing alongs, and it speaks volumes about her songwriting (or the unavoidableness of radio in the mid 90s) that you still know the lyrics to this day. Despite not being as rocking as I had imagined, You Oughta Know still has some teeth in it, and really, it’s a freakingly great breakup track that probably spawned a generation of singer-songwriters who wrote about being a bitter ex. Another highlight would be the track Uninvited, off the movie City of Angels, which I believe was about Nicolas Cage spying on Meg Ryan from heaven. I have only seen clips of that movie, and those clips were on that Goo Goo Dolls song that also accompanied the movie. How much time did I waste watching Muchmusic as a kid? A lot.
Sadly, the Alanis did not perform her pop single Too Hot, which would have probably been rather delightful. Still, I think the crowd got it’s kicks in. That’s the thing about nostalgia -everyone has a list, and as long as most of it gets checked off, it’s all good.
I Remain (Part 1)
All I Really Want
Right Through You
Head Over Feet
I Remain (Part 2)
You Oughta Know
Not the Doctor
Hand in My Pocket