MILAN, Italy -- This was a new Alanis Morissette.
Not only in song and in her wardrobe, but in her essence.
"Thank You India," sang the young singer/songwriter in the first encore
of Wednesday's concert here at the Forum arena.
The line, included in "Thank U" (RealAudio
excerpt), from last year's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie,
came toward the end of an almost two-hour show. It was an expression of
gratitude to the land where she found inner peace.
And where she lost the rage that characterized much of her music.
Dressed in an oriental red dress and wandering on a stage backed by
Kashmir-inspired sheeting and an enormous grate that opened as if to the
door of a temple, Morissette (born Nadine Morissette) showed a kinder,
gentler side. The anger of such songs as "You Oughta Know" (RealAudio
excerpt) was gone. Instead, she performed a slow, balladic
version of the hit single from 1995's multimillion selling Jagged
Driven by bassist Chris Chaney's plodding rhythm, there was little need
for guitarists Joel Shearer and Nick Lashley.
Morissette performed the second date of the Italian leg of her six-week
European tour with the same musicians she recruited to record Supposed
Former Infatuation Junkie (1998). The band, which also included
drummer Gary Novak and keyboardist Deron Johnson, reproduced the mix of
rock and sampled beats that launched the former teen idol to worldwide
But Morissette alone was the protagonist of the show. While the band
remained in shadow, the singer stood in the glare of nine spotlights.
She darted across the big stage and played acoustic and electric guitars
and even a flute on 1998's "That I Would Be Good."
Preceded by mantra-like music, she took the stage and launched into
"Baba." "How soon will I be Holy?/ How much will this cost, guru?/ How
much longer 'til you completely absolve me?" she sang, addressing the
struggle of finding spiritual peace.
The sold-out crowd responded enthusiastically, especially to such older
hits as "Ironic" (RealAudio
excerpt) or "You Learn," from Jagged Little Pill.
Some clearly preferred the old, more energetic Morissette. "She is
clearly a great performer and she has a great voice. But she looked too
detached," Barbara Gregori, 23, said. "She almost didn't talk to the
crowd, despite being so communicative in her songs."
The show closed on an intimate, spiritual note. When Morissette performed
"Forgiven," a song from Jagged Little Pill about her Catholic
education, the grated door opened to unveil a large screen that displayed
the word "God" in different languages.
Before the second encore, the screen showed a clip from the music video
for a recent single, "Unsent" (RealAudio
excerpt), directed by Morissette. Those images showed the
songwriter speaking to past lovers.
The band gathered at the front of the stage to close the show with an
acoustic performance that included "Unsent," the new single "So Pure"
excerpt) and 1995's "Head Over Feet."
"In some ways, it's a great sign of artistic maturity for a young artist
who has only [released] two albums [outside her native Canada], that she
is already reinventing her songs in the live performance," Gregori said.
The singer/songwriter will close her European tour in Switzerland, where
she will perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in mid-July. She will
then move to the U.S., where she has two appearances with acoustic rocker
Dave Matthews in Denver and plans to perform at the Woodstock Festival
in Rome, N.Y., as well.
She will kick off her much-anticipated five-week tour with piano
songstress Tori Amos in mid-August.