Live At The Fillmore East

It's hard to imagine what would happen if she was forced to exist at an emotional pitch that wasn't so shrill it could bring 747s down from the sky...

Here she comes now, the freewheelin’ [a]Alanis Morissette[/a]. Huffing and puffing into that old mouth organ, stomping and flailing like a drunk in a doorway, and utterly oblivious to the fact she’s freewheelin’ right into the path of a juggernaut. There’s her own ridiculousness bearing down on her at 100mph, her fragile dignity about to be crushed, and she has no idea at all. She wouldn’t. As far as Alanis is concerned, every moment she has her mouth open and her larynx quivering is another firm line inked into her self-definition, another sandbag stashed in her defence. Offer her a penny for her thoughts and, God knows, you’ll get your money’s worth.

So she starts off with some leaden ballast, the ‘Kashmir’-esque howling of ‘Can’t Not’ indicating that a meeting with Crispian Mills would be a match from Satan’s own dating agency, then a shiny set of songs all the better to reflect her pain. Yet if the ‘I am woman, hear me bore’ portentousness rapidly becomes taxing, there’s something faintly endearing about her ungainliness, the way she fears no lumpen stumbling. She storms about the stage in a whole deranged ballet of unflattering poses; staggering like she should be dragging a plaid shopping trolley after her; leaping like the Ritalin’s wearing off, and all the time screeching like a detuned radio thrown in the bath. What is unforgivable, though, is the dullness. While ‘Hand In My Pocket’ flares with spirit and ‘You Oughta Know’ is so unashamedly petulant you don’t mind minding its inner child for a minute, the dreary drizzle of ‘Sympathetic Character’ and ‘Mary Jane’ might as well be The Corrs slumming it down the local cloning plant.

If there’s any fascination here it’s because she so completely lacks it. She thinks she’s turning herself inside out and bleeding, but she’s hair and trainers all the way through. Neat. Clean. Session musicians and a session heart. It’s hard to imagine what would happen if she was forced to exist at an emotional pitch that wasn’t so shrill it could bring 747s down from the sky. It could be nasty, blow a fuse, trip an explosion. Nothing left behind, just a pile of dust and a long dark plait.

Yet, as Alanis would undoubtedly point out, life is a lesson and we all learn from it. Leaving the Empire, the world does indeed seem a different place. Somehow calmer. Quieter. Free of shrieking. Thank U tedium. Thank U boredom. Thank U, thank U London Underground.