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Interaction Junkie

submitted by AOwensFL@aol.com

Alanis Says Thank U to Fans in L.A., Charity event allows fans interactive time with Alanis

Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance provided the setting as superstar Alanis Morissette gave something back to her diehard fans and to charity last night. Billed as "An Intimate Evening With Alanis Morissette," the multimedia event featured a live performance, a film presentation and a question-and-answer session. Three hundred lucky audience members (minus a few industry folk) either bid for tickets on Amazon.com or won them through sponsor Z.com to get into the special evening (all proceeds from the Amazon auction went to two charities, the Museum of Tolerance and New York's Active Element Foundation). According to an Amazon representative, the average bid for tickets was $200 apiece. However, five fans bid for a special VIP package that earned them admission into the show, a chance to meet Morissette, front-row seats and a collection of memorabilia signed by her. The high bid was $1,100, but the fan of the night was an Argentinean woman named Mercedes, who bid $900 for her VIP tickets and flew in to Los Angeles specifically for this event.

She called the night "priceless," and to a Morissette fan it was just that. Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., the event began an hour late with a short film compiling performance highlights from Morissette's recent One Tour, which found her traveling to such exotic locales as Istanbul, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon. After well-received, brief speeches by representatives from the Museum of Tolerance and Active Element Foundation, a longer film showing Morissette performing and interacting with her host ambassadors (she selected fans via her Web site to show her around each city she visited on this tour) and the locals. The film, which can be seen on Z.com, effectively downplayed Morissette's superstar status and made the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning artist seem like a regular person.

Finally Morissette and her band took the stage, which featured the exact same set-up -- various carpets and pillows -- as her MTV Unplugged taping. Joined by a five-piece band (two guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and a keyboardist), Morissette seemed totally at ease in the intimate environment. Following a strong opening version of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie's "Can't Not," Morissette, who remained seated for the entire set, addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming: "It isn't something you have to do, and I don't take it for granted."

Taking advantage of the cozy confines the small auditorium presented, she addressed the crowd between every song, sometimes only to introduce the song, but often serving as an effective between-songs storyteller in the vein of Bruce Springsteen.

The intriguing set list also expressed her confidence and comfort with the unique format. The eight-song set excluded all of her biggest hits, with "Head Over Feet" being the only track from Jagged Little Pill to make the cut. The high point of the concert was a dramatic rendition of "I Was Hoping," a song that greatly benefited from the stripped-down setting and Morissette's forceful vocals. Continuing to show off her vocal range, she cranked it up a few octaves for "Heart of the House."

A compelling performance of "So Pure," with its India meets the psychedelic side of the Beatles, closed the regular portion of the concert. After the song, the band left the stage and L.A. DJ Ryan Seacrest came out to moderate the question-and-answer portion of the proceedings. Seacrest peppered a few of his questions in there, but the vast majority of the interview was conducted by the fans, many of whom got very emotional over getting to speak directly to Morissette. In all, thirteen questions were submitted, with the topics ranging from the perception of her as an angry young woman (Alanis responded that it's only one part of her), to her views on religion (she said she's closer to God now that's she's stepped out of religion), to her next project (she's going in the studio in a month, but has no idea what it's going to sound like).

Most of the audience members who got to speak prefaced their questions with mini-monologues on how much Morissette had inspired them or they repeatedly expressed their thanks for her music. The two most memorable moments from the Q&A came from a fan who couldn't stop crying as she tendered her question and a young man who requested that everybody in the place turn to their neighbors and give them a hug. He then asked everybody watching on the Web (the show will be broadcast on Z.com starting Sept. 12) to do the same. A smiling Morissette simply said, "Thank you, sir."

The festivities were wrapped up with the keyboard-heavy "Thank U." As Morissette is one for wearing her heart on her sleeve, it seemed an appropriate close to this special night.

STEVE BALTIN (August 19, 2000 Rollingstone.com)