There are little photos on her in-ear monitors, alphabet letters are on her earrings, she’s rushing from stage side to stage side all the time. It’s very difficult to concentrate on Alanis Morissette as she makes her first ever appearance on the Kunst!Rasen stage. Easier to just close your eyes and let some of the best song lyrics of the 90’s wash over you.
If Morissette was a whirling dervish on stage then support duo Ezio were more your Subbuteo football player sort of entertainers. They bobbed and swiveled, but lacked the finger flick to send them anywhere beyond where they stood. Maybe they needed to get used to the location; as singer Ezio Lunedi wryly pointed out late in the set “We usually play in locations the size of this stage”. There is something of the pub entertainer about their presence, but don’t let that fool you, the Cambridge duo (Lenedi and guitarist Mark ‘Booga’ Fowell) are a class act with an excellent arsenal of self-penned songs. The new ‘Indian’ went down especially well “I’m from England where things aren’t going so well at present” announces Lunedi before the song with its chorus kicks in:
“Might look like a modern man. I feel like an Indian” Broken promises, false alliances and changing borders. At least we don’t have the slaughter of the buffalo to worry about in the UK.
Ezio play regular concerts in Bonn and Cologne. The next will be on December 11 at the Harmonie. I will definitely be there, and I advise you to put a note in your diary too!
Alanis Morissette is undoubtedly best known for her 1996 Album ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and it’s classic track ‘Ironic’. It was obviously a period in her career of highs and lows as she described in The Guardian later “Fame became a great tool. But I still have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the Jagged Little Pill era. It was a profound violation. It felt like every millisecond I was attempting to set a boundary and say no and people were breaking into my hotel rooms and going through my suitcase and pulling my hair and jumping on my car.” It comes as no surprise then that she has not remained always in the musical public eye since then.
Indeed, Morissette seems to have developed into something of a Guru on all things but music, but more worryingly, into a trademark. A glance at her official website offers 15 different garments (t-shirts etc) but only one CD on the merchandise tab. It’s not that she’s become a recluse though. There are tabs to ‘Wellness’, ‘Blog’, ‘Podcasts’ and ‘Charity’. The Podcasts seem to cover everything but rarely music, which seems to have taken a back seat – until recently that is. A planned new CD and the opening (in America) of a musical version of ‘Jagged Little Pill’ seem to have changed all that. Maybe there will be a podcast sometime advising dignitaries on how to stay safe from projectiles when delivering speeches? – Morissette was forever ducking, dodging and weaving from one stage side to the other as if trying to avoid any possible rotten tomatoes. She needn’t have worried though. This was an audience that loved her for the best of reasons – her songs.
Truth be told, it wasn’t a great performance. The lady seemed nervous throughout in front of around 4000 people; as if she wasn’t quite sure if there was still a place for her songs in 2018. There have not been many releases since that iconic LJP disc which the majority of the show revolved around, and her long advertised new release (the first in six years) is still awaited.
None of the audience seems bothered that she doesn’t present anything new though. Her most famous song from LJP, ‘Ironic’ is sung word perfect by a large chunk of the audience, but it seems like a celebration of something for them. Of their teenage past perhaps? As a friend put it – “I’ve been a fan for years. It’s great to finally get the chance to see her!” Does the song itself really matter? Did it ever? It’s even been criticized in recent years on grammatical grounds and, strictly speaking, it’s only truly ironic if it’s “like rain at a Wedding, after you sold your umbrella to buy sunglasses for the groom”. But who cares if grammatically there’s no irony in Alanis Morissette’s biggest hit? It’s lyrically one of the best songs to come out of the 90’s.
Alanis Morissette is essentially a songwriter/activist and she proved after a shaky vocal start that she still has the voice to deliver those songs even if she isn’t so visually ‘in your face’ anymore as she was when appearing standing naked in the street in the ‘Thank U’ video from 1998, or again naked and pregnant underwater (2016). 2018 finds her instead banning photographers from the photo-pit, which is, based on her past visual exploits, well, ironic…
The sound at tonight’s show overall was too often rather ‘muddy’, and the band were musically together, if not really inspiring – but then they never had any real chances to be creative within the strict confines of the songs. There we are, back at the songs again. Really those lyrics were the stars of the evening. “I Can be an arsehole of the grandest kind” she sings from 2004’s ‘Everything’ – “You see everything, you see every part. You see all my light, and you love my dark”. Simple but perfect Pop.
First encore and the tinkling keys of ‘Uninvited’ are as spine-tingling as they were in 1998. Not everything wears so well though, and ‘Thank U’ was very much a song of its time,evoking that nude video from twenty years ago showing a young girl staring into the camera as she takes on the worries of her personal World and makes them our worries too:
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence
Finally. That iconic video from 1998’s ‘Thank U’: