×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Concert Review: Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ Acoustic Show Leaves Apollo Crowd Head Over Feet

It’s 2019, and Alanis Morissette has traded her flicked cigarettes for peace signs.

Straddling a chair in the middle of the Apollo Theater on Monday night, the singer radiates tranquility, apparently unbothered by what she looks like when she hits the high notes. And, yes, 25 years since the release of her seminal and generation-defining album “Jagged Little Pill,” Morissette does in fact still hit them, quipping that singers that look “pretty” while doing it are lip-synching.

Without context, Morissette’s special one-night-only acoustic show at the Apollo could be a continuation of her 1999 MTV “Unplugged” set. But it doesn’t take long to realize that this version of Morissette is not the same person. The singer, now 45, has been married for 10 years and has three kids — one of which she gave birth to over the summer. Unlike some of the darker subject matters in her lyrics, Morissette charms the audience with her playfulness, teasing herself about her Canadian heritage and how she can’t hear anything in the crowd. She’s clearly no longer the angsty young woman who penned “Jagged Little Pill,” although to judge by the hearty sing-a-longs taking place at the venue on Monday night, the crowd had been craving a dose of nostalgia.

It makes sense: “Jagged Little Pill” has been getting the throwback treatment on-screen — first in the film “Lady Bird,” when Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) listens to “Hand In My Pocket” in the car and tells her dad that Morissette wrote the song in one hour, and then in a show-stopping karaoke performance of “You Oughta Know” in the Olivia Wilde-directed “Booksmart.” Both banner musical moments have brought Morissette’s music to a new generation while allowing past fans a chance to revisit and rediscover them. There will also continue to be no shortage of it, considering Morissette’s era-defining album inspired a Broadway musical of the same name opening Thursday, and a tour around the album’s 25th anniversary next year.

While the deeply personal “Jagged Little Pill” was one of the biggest-selling albums — it’s been certified a whopping 16-times platinum by the RIAA — in the music industry’s most lucrative era — the ‘90s — it was also misunderstood. Morissette’s fury toward industry sexism and her own personal trauma often were discounted, her lyrics criticized as trite, and she — like Liz Phair and other young female artists coming of age at the time — wasn’t taken as seriously as she might have been. Plus, as Letters to Cleo singer Kay Hanley has said, when Morissette was coming up in the ‘90s, there was really only one slot available for songs by women in rock radio. But nearly two-and-a-half decades later, the album is getting a thorough and much-deserved second chance in the spotlight.

The show, which is largely a trip down memory lane, saw Morissette authoritatively embracing her past. But the trauma and pain that one seeped through the album is replaced with peace — empathy for her younger self and a confidence in her present. She also brought her music even further into the present with lyrical twists: trading “CDs” for “mp3s” on “Your House” and meeting the man of her dreams and his “beautiful husband” instead of a “wife” on “Ironic.”

At the same time, no matter how harsh the melodies of the original “Jagged Little Pill” tracks, Morissette re-shaped the sounds to soothe on acoustic guitar. With the hits “Hand in My Pocket” and “Head Over Feet,” the singer turned pop jaunts into lullabies, with her signature yodel intermittently cutting through; plus, she proved she can still play a mean harmonica. When she reached one of her biggest hits, “Ironic,” Morissette embraced the sing-a-long, letting the audience take over half the track for her. The singer also thrived in the quieter moments of the show when she performed “Perfect” and “Wake Up,” honing in on her haunting, stripped-back tone.

But diverging from the overall calmer tone of the evening, Morissette’s “Right Through You,” which detailed her experiences with industry sexism and harassment long before #MeToo, remained as biting as ever.

In-between “Jagged Little Pill” tracks, Morissette dropped in two new songs she penned for the musical: the moody “Smiling,” which could have been an outtake from the original album, and the harrowing “Predator,” a song about sexual assault. Straying from a typical encore, Morissette remained onstage before closing out her set with two non-“Jagged Little Pill” hits; she delivered a jaw-dropping crescendo during her power ballad “Uninvited” before aptly closing the show with her gratitude anthem “Thank U.”

In her acoustic set, Morissette found a new kind of liberation within the songs of “Jagged Little Pill,” allowing her to rewrite its narrative on her own terms, with 25 years of hindsight.

 

 

Concert Review: Alanis Morissette's 'Jagged Little Pill' Acoustic Show Leaves Apollo Crowd Head Over Feet

More Music

  • Joni MitchellJoni 75: A Birthday Celebration

    Joni Mitchell to Receive Les Paul Innovation Award at NAMM TEC Awards

    Joni Mitchell will receive the prestigious Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards, to be held Saturday, January 18, 2020 in Anaheim, California. According to the announcement, the award is given on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation to honor individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in creative application [...]

  • Juice Wrld Bonnaroo Music and Arts

    Juice Wrld's Cause of Death Still Pending After Initial Autopsy

    The cause of Chicago rapper Juice Wrld’s death is still unknown after the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office released its initial findings of an autopsy on Monday. The Medical Examiner’s Office released a statement saying “additional studies are required to establish the cause and manner of death” for the 21-year-old musician, whose real name was [...]

  • Beyonce KnowlesBeyonce and Jay-Z in concert,

    Beyoncé Doesn't Care That 'Lemonade' Was Snubbed at the Grammys

    In an interview with Elle for her January 2020 cover story, Queen Bey answered questions ranging from whether she has a Snapchat to how she felt about “Lemonade” losing its Grammy nomination. In a candid response to a fan’s question from Instagram, Beyoncé admitted that her “Lemonade” loss for album of the year at the [...]

  • Remembering Prince

    Final Prince ‘1999’ Podcast Chapter Drops Tonight – Hear an Exclusive Clip Here

    The Prince Estate and Warner Records have outdone themselves with their re-release of Prince’s iconic “1999” album, with a massive boxed set containing tons of unreleased material and even a four-part podcast series titled “Prince: The Story of 1999,” produced with 89.3 The Current. The fourth and final installment drops tonight, but you can get [...]

  • Drugs, Guns Confiscated From Juice Wrld's

    Drugs, Guns Confiscated From Juice Wrld's Plane

    Law-enforcement officials were in the process of confiscating guns and drugs from Juice Wrld’s flight at Chicago’s Midway Airport when the rapper suffered convulsions and went into cardiac arrest early Sunday, police told the Chicago Tribune. The rapper was briefly revived but died at a local hospital. According to the report, officers and agents had [...]

  • Academy of Country Music

    Academy of Country Music Names Damon Whiteside CEO

    Nearly seven months after Pete Fisher announced his resignation as head of the Academy of Country Music, a new CEO has been announced. Damon Whiteside will exit his role as chief marketing officer of the Nashville-based Country Music Association to sign on for the top job at the L.A.-based ACM. Whiteside will step in as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content