Alanis Morissette doesn’t talk much onstage. Instead, she flashes peace signs, introduces band members and spends a lot of time hydrating between songs.
But never do you feel as if she isn’t 100 percent invested in being there. It’s evident in the wide smile plastered on her face, the involuntary rocking and pacing around the stage like a caged panther and sometimes, when she really gets into it, the crazy thrashing of her trademark mane.
At Thursday’s packed show at The Tabernacle, Morissette spent her 100 minutes on stage ripping through a well-balanced set list, one stocked with the highlights from her exceptional new album, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” and with plenty of nods to the girl who only used to be angry, but now, married and with a baby son, appears content at last.
Among the six new tracks Morissette, 38, and her five-piece band rolled out – the sweetly soaring “Guardian,” unjustly ignored at radio, and disco-rock “Woman Down” the two best – came the hits that have helped her sell more than 60 million albums worldwide.
“All I Really Want,” “You Learn,” “Ironic” and “Head Over Feet” all retained their diary-entry meaningfulness, with Morissette delivering the lyrics with the passion and conviction of the twentysomething who wrote them.
The dedicated fans in the crowd heartily sang along with the new tracks as well as the classics, spiking their singalongs with a roar whenever Morissette blew into her harmonica; they also reacted deliriously whenever an album-track oldie such as “Right Through You,” from 1995’s career-catapulting “Jagged Little Pill,” popped up.
Throughout the show, Morissette’s lower register was often difficult to decipher, but her upper register rang strong and true during “Mary Jane” and a frenetic “Uninvited,” its eerie piano creeping into massive crescendos accompanied by Morissette flailing wildly around the stage and whipping her hair into a tornado.
She segued into a faithful rendition of “You Oughta Know,” that perfect, snarling slice of spite that never, ever ages (the crowd took delight in screaming the words usually bleeped out on radio), but interestingly, didn’t end her initial set there.
Most artists would have, but instead, Morissette, playing guitar as she did throughout the show, blasted through the new “Numb.” She doesn’t want you to remember who she was, but who she is.
She and the band returned for an acoustic encore that launched with “Hand in My Pocket,” one of her best ruminations on contradictions, as well as “Joining You” and a poignant a capella “Your House.” (Many other shows received “Hands Clean” and “Everything” in the encore slot – fans will surely debate which audiences got the better deal).
But Morissette wasn’t quite finished, returning again for, appropriately, “Thank U,” and its infamous “transparent dangling carrots” line.
Though this U.S. tour will wind down after five more dates – the entire run started in June overseas – she said in a recent interview that she intends to tour well into 2013.
Morissette is an unpretentious presence on stage, but one that commands attention nonetheless.