All I really want…

Alanis Morisette at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 - photo Monica Heck

Alanis Morisette at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 – photo Monica Heck

At last the music started and her voice wafted formless through the air. Then Alanis Morissette skipped onto the stage, all long haired and toothy smiled and the crowd erupted. The wait was finally over.

Waiting irritates the Swiss. This comes as no surprise as they pretty much invented time. And this crowd was getting very impatient, despite the best efforts of congenial  Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs.

Having announced a new album in May this year and released a teaser track called Guardian which has her unique style stamped all over it, Alanis Morrisette is now touring Europe in advance of the release of what is now her 8th studio album, Havoc and Bright Lights.

Arguably, most of the audience at the Montreux Jazz  Festival was there for her older material. Despite building up quite a back catalogue of albums and cinema appearances since then, including Under Rug Swept in 2002 and Flavors of Entanglement in 2007, it seemed this audience was happier to remember Alanis as the angry young woman of Jagged Little Pill circa 1995.

But this woman she is no more. Heartbreak and anger seem firmly behind her following a wedding to rapper Mario “MC Souleye” Treadway and the birth of her first child, Ever Imre in 2010, with whom she is said to practice attachment parenting. And from this, ‘Guardian’ was born, which she says is a reflection of the protectiveness she feels towards all of those she loves.

The reborn Alanis treated the audience to a good mix of new tunes and older classics with the support of a full band. Smiling and relaxed, she gave it her all, switching guitars, headbanging her long hair and plucking strings with the determination of a teenage rock star, all mouth and rainbow-coloured short nails.

Alanis Morisette at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 - photo Monica Heck

Alanis Morisette at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 – photo Monica Heck

Looking smiley in a simple outfit of skinny jeans and petticoat, she appeared exhausted at times but kept going, sometimes not quite on key as she leaped around, but always true to the strong breathy catchiness of her songs.

The crowd whooped and sang along, but one couldn’t help wondering if such lines as “Do I wear you out; You must wonder why I’m so relentless and all strung out;I’m consumed by the chill of solitary” had lost a little of their bite to the bliss of personal life. Some songs like ‘One Hand In My Pocket’ were slowed down considerably, an interesting new twist to music that never really grows old.

The unique strength of Alanis resides in her singer-songwriter ‘stream of consciousness’ lyrics, which are at their most powerful in her exquisite MTV Unplugged album of 1999. And that got a little lost in the wider setting of the Stravinski auditorium in Montreux this year.

The crowd saw one incarnation of Alanis in Montreux, strong, beautiful and very much alive. There is another Alanis in there somewhere that would benefit from a different setting, more intimate and acoustic where the audience can truly get to grips with her ability to speak the subconscious language of the troubled soul.


About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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