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On her “Intimate & Acoustic” tour, Morissette was electric.
It was a picture-perfect evening on Portland’s Maine State Pier Saturday night. So much so that one has to wonder why more concerts aren’t held there. Fingers crossed on that front.
Two huge three-masted sailboats and several curious seagulls were on hand among the couple of thousand fans for a show by seven-time Grammy winner Alanis Morissette. Few can forget the almost 20-year-old album “Jagged Little Pill” with its several hits still heard on the radio regularly. And when Morissette opened the show with Jagged’s “You Learn,” the crowd burst at the seams, singing along as the Canadian singer sat in a high stool flanked by two acoustic guitarists. This was, after all, her “Intimate & Acoustic” tour. The evening was, however, quite electric as Morissette, 40, not only shined musically but was also charming and often hilarious with an easy smile and laugh.
“Hand in my Pocket” was another sing-along and surely anyone on Munjoy Hill or out on Casco Bay heard the song’s iconic lines, including “‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other one is playing a piano.” Morissette also busted out her harmonica on this one.
Morissette delved a few times into Jagged’s 1998 follow-up album, “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” with “So Pure” and “Heart of the House.”
“Under Rug Swept” from 2002 included one of Morissette’s strongest tracks, “Hands Clean”: “Ohh, this could be messy, but you don’t seem to mind. Ohh, don’t go telling everybody, and overlook this supposed crime.”
One of the things that has always made Morissette such an interesting singer are her broken syllables and quirky phrasing. She has a knack for pronouncing words in unique ways that only she can pull off.
Lyrically speaking, one of Morissette’s strongest songs is one that can only be found on her “MTV Unplugged” album from 1999. She explained to the crowd that she wrote the song for her twin brother, Wade. “You sample concepts like hors d’oeuvres. And you eat their questions for dessert. And is it just me or is it hot in here?” Surrounded on three sides by the waters of Casco Bay the song was slow and gorgeous on a night that held the first few hints of fall in it. What came next was surely one of the most highly-anticipated songs of the performance. With no fanfare, Morissette and her guitarists began “You Oughta Know” and the crowd went berserk. One of Casco Bay Lines’ ferries was arriving with a boatload of passengers while Morissette performed the R-rated album version of the song. “Well I’m here to remind you, of the mess you left when you went away. It’s not fair, to deny me, of the cross I bear that you gave to me.” Even done acoustically, the song still has fangs and draws blood.
In 1998, Morissette wrote and recorded a song for one of the year’s biggest film’s, “City of Angels.” The song went to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40 chart and won Grammy awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. The song “Uninvited” stands up to the test of time and Morissette sang the stuffing out of it from her perch. Throughout the evening a handful of high notes might not have made it all the way to their intended destination, but overall Morissette sounded fantastic.
Rather than the traditional encore, Morissette narrated what that obligatory process always looks like with tongue-in-cheek humor. Then she played one of Jagged Little Pill’s smash hits and, yes, all these years later the black fly in that glass of Chardonnay still stings. When she started with “Ironic” it was hard to find a single fan who wasn’t singing aloud – either quietly or at the top of their happy lungs.