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October 12, 1998
Alanis Morissette Kicks Off Club Tour
SANTA CRUZ, Oct. 11-Alanis Morissette took her own prescription for the first nights of her sophomore tour, giving a jagged little Sunday evening show to a sold-out audience of 900 in the tightly packed Catalyst club. During the hour and 40 minute set, Morissette played 12 songs from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, her forthcoming album scheduled for release Nov. 3, as well as "Uninvited," her hit single from this year's City of Angels soundtrack. Only four tracks from her last album, Jagged Little Pill, the biggest-selling solo album in history, made their way to the stage.
Fans won't be disappointed with Morissette's new sound. The tight, hard- rocking material featured some spacey world-beat refrains, and the in- your-face punch of Led Zeppelin or Midnight Oil. Far edgier than the bland Lilith fare that has followed her wake, the new Alanis is, in fact, closer to Hole's Live Through This than the pop Courtney Love recently released on Celebrity Skin.
There was no sign of rustiness from a two-year layoff, as she and a maturing band opened with three new rockers, "Baba," "Can't Not," and "Would Not Come." Dressed in a red satin skirt over jeans and an embroidered blouse, Morissette's clothes and music carried the influences of a recent trip to India, which she referred to when she sang the album's first single, "Thank U," the evening's second to last song before the encores began.
Morissette, like her music, has grown. Focused and clear-eyed, she chugged almost a whole bottle of water after every song. There was no sign of the awkward gangliness of her first tour. Though her dancing was still more of the uncoordinated-hippy-chick than Madonna, she seemed to have found a coltish confidence as she raised her arms, drawing the crowd in. She played around with her older hits, keeping them fresh. "Hand in My Pocket" saw guitarist Nick Lashley drawing on some Jimi Hendrix chucka-chucka-wah-wah; "You Oughta Know," took on a loungy feel, centered around Darrell Johnson's keyboards, and "Right Through You," was simply a guitar-based romp.
Perhaps ironically, the chorus to one of four encores (you know which one) was extremely off-key. Otherwise, Alanis' vocals were perfect, at times sounding exactly like her album, and sometimes rollicking off with yodels and trills for extra texture. On top of that, her band was much hotter than on the last tour. Chris Chaney on bass, Gary Novak on drums, and Joel Shearer on guitar punched the music up a level from the recordings.
If there was one complaint, it was that after an hour Morissette's songs started sounding formulaic. Like the first three songs, others, such as "I Was Hoping," "Uninvited," and "Forgiven," started soft, as she documented her pain, building to an anthem-like roar. But, that said, Alanis' strength is in her repetition; it's what gets her alienated, angry audience singing along with every slight, every indignity. You could almost feel the fans revving up to join her on the new one "Sympathetic Character."
"I have as much rage as you have/ I have as much pain as you do/ I've lived as much hell as you have/ And I've kept mine bubbling under for you." There was no bubbling under this night. It was all put out there, ragged and rough, for the fans and the world to hear. -Brad Kava