Alanis Morissette
Mon March 29

YOU GO TO YOUR FIRST ALANIS MORISSETTE concert, and you walk in expecting to see pretty much anything. Judging from her ubiquitous music videos, you might find her with her head in a television set, or zombified and completely naked. Live concert footage might lead you to expect she'll plow a trough through the stage with her crazy-person's trudge and lurchy launchings, as she rants and raves through the early stuff and slides and sways through the newer, less angry songs from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. What you get, however, is one of the most boring arena shows you're ever likely to see, saved ever so slightly by her arresting get-up, which, I must admit, was smashing.

Dwarfed by a looming, cut tin backdrop that occasionally opened to project edifying video clips (running on the beach, clasped hands), Alanis walked quite normally back and forth across the stage, dressed in an ox-blood, glitter-shot, sleeveless bodice, matching loose pants, and a tangerine satin skirt, cut perfectly straight and slit up both sides--a look Olympia's sadly misguided dress-over-pants aficionados should study before leaving their dressing rooms each morning. On her feet she wore a simple pair of black-and-white Puma sneakers--sensible shoes for a girl who would spend the better part of 90 minutes walking from one side of the stage to the other.

Before this review goes any further, let it be said that in no way am I a fan of Alanis Morissette. I dislike her phrasing. I dislike her wail-y tirades and her facile embracing of cultures she knows little or nothing about. I hate her videos. But for all the awfulness that I was expecting to rain down around me--huge, pummeling sheets of screechy bombast--I found myself instead appreciating her crystalline vocals, her genuine sincerity, and her backing band, comprised not of old session farts but young studs. And I adored her improved fashion sense. Then again, I had taken a Valium, which I happily discovered in my jacket pocket just before the show began.

Not that the evening wasn't without its retina-detaching, eye-rolling moments. Alanis played guitar--ONE chord, over and over again, strummy-strummy-strummy. After dedicating "You Learn" (the only song off Jagged Little Pill I can stand) to a friend in the audience, she signed it--as in deaf signed it--but in such a half-assed lame attempt that it took damn near the whole song for me to realize she wasn't just doing some kind of village-idiot-inspired gesturing. The rest of the concert she performed a dead-on impersonation of Cher: elbow bent, limp hand swinging at the wrist, head bobbing like a rear-window Chihuahua. At one point I swore to my companion that the tiny, bleach blond bass player was, in fact, Cher/Gregg Allman offspring Elijah Blue. But alas, he was not.

I'd like to say I made it through the entire concert, long enough to hear the song that annoys me the most--that fucking "Ironic." (I like to get worked up about the stupid misuse of the word, and few things in life give me more pleasure than getting really worked up.) But I was falling asleep in a seat that couldn't have been more than 30 feet from the stage. One song into the encore, I took my leave.