Is there anybody who embodies the spirit of the ’90s better than Alanis Morissette?
Morissette just released a new album, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” though you would not have known it from her show at the Paramount Theatre on Wednesday. While she played several of the songs from the new record, she didn’t really promote it, and most of the audience reacted best to the songs from “Jagged Little Pill” and “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.”
Watching Morissette perform is a thrill. Through the first four or five songs, she didn’t stop moving, stalking back and forth from one side of the stage to the other, not stopping in the center at all. During “All I Really Want,” she and guitarist Jason Orme engaged in a little back and forth dance while Morissette riffed on the harmonica.
Some of Morissette’s classic songs got reworked a little on Wednesday. On “Perfect,” Morissette started slow, dark and dreamy, while “Celebrity,” from the new new album, had a dark and gritty feel. On “So Pure,” the guitar riffs played by guitarists Orme and Julian Coryell sounded like the intro riff from “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles.
For the audience, the joy came in getting to sing along to Morissette’s classics. Indeed, she let the crowd take over most of the singing on “Ironic,” though she playfully changed the last verse to “Meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful husband,” while the bassist and second guitarist made out on stage behind her.
On the transcendent “Uninvited,” Morissette started headbanging, whipping her long raven locks around in a frenzy during the final guitar crescendo, seemingly oblivious to the crowd. This led into the fierce “You Oughta Know,” which started slow and moody before kicking into high gear at the first chorus.
Having rocked out for the better part of an hour and half, Morissette and her band played a three-song acoustic encore, starting with the arrangement for “Hand in My Pocket” from the “Jagged Little Pill Acoustic” release a few years ago. The acoustic highlight was a haunting reworking of “So Unsexy,” the rare instance where the acoustic version tops the electric original.
A second encore of an electric “Thank You” saw Morissette shining with joy while Coryell, sporting a GoPro helmet cam, rocked back and forth across the stage.
I Remain (Segue 1), Woman Down, All I Really Want, You Learn, Guardian, Perfect, Celebrity, Right Through You, So Pure, Ironic, Havoc, Head Over Feet, Lens, I Remain (Segue 3), Uninvited, You Oughta Know, Numb, E: Hand in Pocket, So Unsexy, Everything, E2: Thank You
Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.