HAS video montage precedes Alanis Morissette’s arrival, capturing the Canadian-American angst-rock godmother’s extraordinary pop culture resonance with clips of everything from her Curb Your Enthusiasm cameo to James Corden and Justin Bieber howling Ironic on Carpool Karaoke. French and Saunders’ memorable flesh-coloured body suit parody of the Thank U video might have featured too, for a flavor of the satirical backlash that followed the singer’s late-90s celebrity zenith, but the point nevertheless remains: however big you remember Morissette to have been, she was bigger.
A quarter-century later – large parts spent in self-imposed exile finding inner peace through spirituality, meditation and motherhood – Morissette has reengaged on her own terms with a music business that nearly killed her to mark a milestone for 1995’s totemic 33m-selling Jagged Little Pill. The 25th-anniversary celebrations of an album already several times rereleased, once rerecorded in acoustic form and now the subject of a hit musical jukebox have been stretched out for more than two years now. But who’s complaining? Let’s just say nobody is here in feverish anticipation of Morissette’s latest chakra-balancing ambient album The Storm Before the Calm.
Stomping the stage in baggy yellow T-shirt and leather trousers, Morissette sings with a loud and pristine voice, trilling the high notes during Hand in My Pocket so effortlessly they’re practically yodelled, leaning so far back from the mic during the rousing chorus of You Learn that she may as well be in the car park. The sleazy record industry exec-shaming Right Through You near enough forewarned #MeToo, and helps explain Morissette’s renaissance among younger listeners. But most fans tonight look like long-termers, many of them almost disbelieving that the tour-shy star is finally here in front of them, windmilling her peroxide hair.
Ironic is touchingly sung in memory of Taylor Hawkins, who drummed with Morissette before joining Foo Fighters. Flaming break-up song You Oughta Know has been covered by Britney and Beyoncé, but for full fierceness has to be experienced from the source.
The encore frames Morissette’s tricky progression post-Jagged Little Pill, first with 1998’s Uninvited, an almost Mogwai-esque noise rock director which improbably sold seven million copies. The zen hosannas of Thank U were mocked in their day, coming from a singer pigeonholed as angry young woman. Today they sound like first steps on a long path to happier and healthier superstardom.