Alanis Morrisette : Brussels Anciennce Belgique

Miss Former Infatuation Junkie returns, best mates with Tricky and still whining...

You wonder where she’s been since 1999, when her ‘Unplugged’ album was released. Some whisper Alanis Morissette may have descended into record company hell, a plausible theory when you consider that Tricky has been roped in to produce/co-write her next album. Others reckon that, in between performing for Pope John Paul II and taking up a part in ‘The Vagina Monologues’, she’s taken a further step on the path of spiritual enlightenment. Ah, who knows, maybe she’s just been lying in the sun for two years.

Fact is that, for anyone who had hoped that Alanis Morissette‘s star would fade after the relatively disappointing sales of ‘Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie’, tonight’s show is bad news. Hailed as a half-goddess, Alanis is visibly enjoying every second of tonight’s show, and so is the remarkably, er, mature audience. The new songs in the set are greeted with hushed awe, the old hits are shouted along word by word.

For all the reverence she commands tonight, however, it has to be said that Alanis Morissette just isn’t very good at what she does. Yes, she can sing, but, live, she doesn’t manage to control the vocal mannerisms that make her sound in turns like Kate Bush without the mystery and a yodelling Joni Mitchell. And yes, she has some good songs – tonight especially ‘Hand in My Pocket’ and ‘Forgiven’ impress – but most of her back catalogue consists of aborted tunes and half decent hooks only there to draw attention to the (mostly dismal) lyrics.

At her best, Alanis Morissette towers high above the legion of female angst-rockers that have followed in her wake. ‘You Oughta Know’, for instance, vibrates with genuine anger and resentment tonight. For the most part of the show, however, we could just as well have been watching Meredith Brooks. Not a compliment.

Manu Lammens