Alanis Morissette Shows Kinder, Gentler Side Onstage

Once angst-filled singer/songwriter puts her rage aside during live performance in Europe.

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

Little Pill.

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

fame.

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"

(RealAudio

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.