Alanis' Emotional Rescue

The Allstate Arena
March 9, 1998

Story by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Phil Bonyata

"All I really want is deliverance", cried the young woman, with long, dark straggly hair tied back in a braided ponytail, to a sea of thousands last Tuesday at the Horizon Amphitheater in Rosemont, IL. With her last breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, selling an unprecedented 28 millions copies worldwide as well as her latest offering, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, racking up over 2 million copies in just the first week of it's release, Canadian-bred Alanis Morissette has, at least in the realm of the music business, achieved her lofty wish.
Alanis Morrisette From her 1991 self-titled debut album, Alanis, (which she recorded at the tender age of 16) to the chart-smashing alt-pop-rock of Jagged Little Pill Morissette has worn her emotions on her sleeve, baring her soul to anyone who cared to listen. And as it turned out the world has had quite a sympathetic ear for her woes.
Morissette stepped onto the stage, adorned with large hand-painted floral backdrops and an intricate filigree projection, and physically played out many of the emotional elements she's dealt with on her recordings.With the stage as her therapeutic couch she playfully jumped across it with the unbridled exuberance of a young child, sensually delivered powerful, warbling vocals and spun around with limbs flailing as if some kind of girlie-dirvish. As she unleased some of her deepest feelings it's as if she was using the audience as her shrink and her music as her therapy.
Focusing only on her last two albums, she performed an even mixture of familiar hits from Jagged Little Pill as well a good number of deeper, more fully realized songs from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. While the much overplayed songs "You Oughta Know" and "All I Really Want" seemed to satisfy the late twenty-something crowd, it was the the East Indian influences on "Baba", with mystical, heavy Led Zeppelin minor chord progressions, and "Sympathetic Characte" as well the hip-hop throbbings from drummer Gary Novak and bassist Chris Chaney and Nick Lashley's mysterious psychedelic guitar-weaving on "Would Not Come" that gave this show it's flavor.
Garbage Reflecting of her wealth of relationships at only 24 years old, she sang "Your House", a bittersweet song of betrayed love which was the hidden acappella track on Jagged Little Pill, but this time the band musically helped flesh it out to it's full potential. On "Unsent": she reminisced through song about her feelings of past lovers that she never expressed to them in person.
Even though Morissette and her band put on a pleasing show, she had a hard time filling the shoes of the women, such as PJ Harvey and Liz Phair, who had originally opened the door for her emotional, sexually charged style of music.
Opening for Morissette was Madison's own heroes Garbage. Fronted by Scottish singer Shirley Manson and backed by the thunderous drumming of grunge-conspirator Butch Vig, who produced early Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Nirvana albums, this band plowed through a rousing set that melded techno, pop, alternative and hard rock into one convenient package.
Manson, clad in back tank-top, black slim-line trousers, white gym shoes and arm in a sling (she claimed it was from a fight with The Barenaked Ladies), looked more like an injured tourist than her normal junked-out, street tramp persona. But her performance was still, nonetheless, strong with belting vocals as she still managed to bounce across the stage quite effortlessly, despite her affliction.
In a short set that was heavy on tunes from their latest album Version 2.0, Vig, Manson, along with guitarists Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and bassist Daniel Shulman soared through sonic takes of "Temptation Waits", with it's wall of guitars, "I Think I'm Paranoid' which shook the auditorium with a thunderous bass reverb and "Stupid Girl", which poked fun at the Spice Girls with Manson's hysterical ending line "Well I tell you what I want, what I really, really wan". The highlight, however, was a wonderful rendition of their latest slice of pop on "Special", a homage to The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde.
Although Garbage lacked the slickness that studio wizard Vig and company add to their albums, Manson's sensual pipes along with the band's aggressive techno-grunge-pop proved to be an effective eye-opener for the main act.

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