Article by: Kelly Milionis, Senior Contributing Writer/Interviewer/Reviewer
Photos By: Thomas Mayer
Seven-time GRAMMY Award Winner Alanis Morissette gave an incredibly powerful performance Saturday night at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago that was nothing short of flawless, fascinating, and hypnotic. Concert-goers in the nearly packed house were glued to the edges of their seats awaiting every note from an artist who would hold interest from the first note, to the last note, and everything in between. Little did I know this would be my first 5 stars out of 5 stars A-list performance here in Chicago...definitely worthy of the rating and well earned!
Perfection, usually found in performances on the Recording Academy's Annual GRAMMY Awards shows, like that of Adele and Jennifer Hudson during last year's 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, is something to which Morissette is accustomed and those fans lucky to be in the audience were treated to something very special from an artist who remains relevant at any age and any generation. One look around the venue showed just how far-reaching Morissette truly is; from teenagers to seniors and seemingly evenly split between women and men, all singing along alone, with others, or even in unison when asked by Morissette or prompted by the positioning of her microphone. She has influenced artists as diverse as Avril Lavigne, Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, Leah Andreone and Pink!, just to name a few. Morissette's performance also reminded me of one of Chicago's leading up-and-coming singer/songwriters whom I had seen recently who is just as powerful and captivating with voice and lyric content and who is also influenced by Morissette. As K. Serra, aka Rachel Sarah Thomas, puts it "always loved the power in her [Morissette's] femininity and it is something that definitely influenced [me] as a young singer. It is one of the main tenants of my vocal style". Powerful performances that you could swear you felt the electricity in the air.
The massively successful RIAA Diamond Awarded Jagged Little Pill and Morissette's latest album, Havoc and Bright Lights, provided most of the evening's material which continues to showcase her very personal lyric content and unique vocal prowess. This night was simply a special evening for everyone...maybe even Morissette herself.
House lights down, followed by a deafening and chaotic mix of screams, cheers, clapping and whistles, as the opening number, I Remain (Part 1), began with Morissette's backing touring band; Jason Orme - Guitar, Julian Coryell - Guitar, Cedric Lemoyne - Bass, Michael Farrell - Keyboards and Victor Indrizzo - Drums taking the stage amongst a dark backdrop with blue lights. Morissette sang the first song from backstage, her voice could be heard but she was not seen. When Morissette did show herself, she was met with more thunderous applause of approval. She was wearing a black sleeveless blouse, maroon/burgundy leggings, and black leather thigh high boots. She had her tethered microphone in hand and kicked in with the second song of the night, Woman Down, moving back and forth, forward and backward in her trademark lunges to both sides of the stage to the delight of those down front. And, it was to be this way all night long, trading off holding a microphone, playing an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar and even holding and playing her harmonica. Set-list included I Remain (part 1), Woman Down, All I Really Want, You Learn, Guardian, Mary Jane, Spiral, Right Through You, So Pure, Ironic, Havoc, Head Over Feet, Lens, I Remain (part 2), Uninvited, You Oughta Know, and Numb. First encore set included, Hand In My Pocket, Everything and Your House while finishing with Thank You in the second encore set.
My Photographer, Thomas Mayer and I departed the Chicago Music Magazine offices in the West Loop well ahead of schedule but were not prepared for the delays the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) would present. Track maintenance, new build and more track maintenance made it difficult to find our final destination...all of this in a rainy downpour. Needless to say we arrived late but just in time to see the last two songs from the opener. And, turns out, we were lucky that we made it because the opening act was Souleye, aka Mario Treadway, who was joined by his wife, Alanis Morissette, during the last song of his set. Yes, maybe it was a special evening for Morissette too.
Upon entering the venue, unsubstantiated rumors and chatter were heard from a few concert-goers regarding high ticket prices...yet, when the concert ended, this was a night to remember. Indeed, a performance by an artist for whom it did not matter the ticket price...definitely worth its weight in gold, platinum, diamond, or yes, even multiple GRAMMY's. On the Broadway bus after the show returning to the office I was struck by how many passengers were still excited by the performance and could not wait to see Morissette play again next time. Derek, John and Andrew, from Chicago, were sharing their experience amongst themselves when I interrupted and they stated together emphatically "this was a dream come true to see Morissette perform live, she has not aged a bit and her voice remains impeccable". Thank you Alanis!