Closing the U.S. portion of her 1999 world tour Wednesday at a sold-out Universal Amphitheatre, recent Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette made the most of her finite musical talents with a spirited 90-minute performance that progressively gained in poise as it unfolded.
Tentative at first, the 24-year-old Canadian star took the stage — following an instrumental intro jam from her hard-rocking all-male band — and performed the intense “Baba,” a captivating opening song taken from her second American album, last year’s “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” (Maverick/Reprise), that challenges the religions of the world.
Dressed in a glittering sleeveless plum top with a skirt over black pants, and with her long hair held in an ever-unraveling ponytail, Morissette bounded and awkwardly danced about while she lustily sang her wordy songs of deceit, heartache, lost love and obsession.
She often sang her confessional and confrontational lyrics as if she was about to break out in a scream, like during the hypnotic “Sympathetic Character,” which floated lithely over bass player Chris Chaney’s dub foundation even as Morissette seemed consumed by her rage for a former lover.
The SRO and VIP-heavy (Farrah Fawcett, Nicolas Cage, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, No Doubt) crowd — which endured an hourlong delay at show’s opening due to a weather-related power outage in the Universal City area — was restrained by Morissette’s fans’ standards, probably also due to the large percentage of industry-related ticket holders.
Hits such as “Hand In My Pocket,” a reworked “All I Really Want” and, during the first of two encores, “Ironic” did bring louder cheers, though. Show ended just after midnight with an unplugged-style set (featuring standup bass and small drum kit) that closed with the semiautobiographical “U R.”
Morissette has yet to develop an onstage personality that matches the burning intensity of much of her recorded work, but her many onstage faults (such as the unfortunate harmonica and flute playing during a number of songs) in some ways actually add to her inescapable appeal.
World tour continues to Canada, Europe and Japan.