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Alanis Morissette at Xfinity Center, July 9, 2024




Concert Reviews

“Jagged Little Pill” fueled the setlist, but with just enough tweaks and additions to make the proceedings seem fresh.

Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette, here at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield in 2021, returned there Tuesday night. Globe Photo/Stew Milne

Twenty-five years ago this month, Alanis Morissette played the Saturday of Woodstock ’99— the only woman to lead either of the festival’s main stages that day. Four years after the release of her monstrous, multi-award-winning record Jagged Little Pill and a less than a year removed from its successful follow-up Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Morissette’s appearance at the infamous event temporarily placated a machismo-fueled crowd that would rage through sets from Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and Metallica that same day. Needless to say, while Morissette’s voice would go on to define a generation, in the moment, the songwriter had to sing extra loud in order to truly be heard. 

On Tuesday night, Morissette’s Triple Moon Tour made its way to a packed crowd at Xfinity Center in Mansfield — many of whom would remember Jagged Little Pill’s release vividly. Many others wouldn’t be born for another decade. Opening sets from country rocker Morgan Wade and glam rock royalty Joan Jett and the Blackhearts provided doses of influenced-by-Alanis and influence-of-Alanis, respectively, kicking off a timeline-spanning motif that would act as a common thread throughout the night.

Before Morissette even took the stage, a montage video recapped her journey to the present, from her beginnings as child actor to her mid-’90s launch, to stardom, to her activism and social message, to the many artists who have been inspired by her music. 

Launching into “Hand in My Pocket,” the songwriter immediately gave the audience a chorus to contribute to, and used her harmonica for the first of many times throughout the night to give the 1995 track an increased vibrance. “Right Through You” kept the sing-along energy afloat, with Morissette belting lyrics to call out male record executives’ abuse of power as quotes and gender-equality statistics cycled through the backdrop.

A quick glance across the crowd showed fans of all ages mouthing the words — perhaps a side-effect of the success of the 2018 Jagged Little Pill musical (which debuted at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater before hitting Broadway a year later), or maybe just a testament to the incredible staying power of the artist’s catalog. 

2020’s “Reasons I Drink” and 2002’s “Hands Clean” were among the first non-Jagged songs that Morissette delivered — the former conjuring a Sara Bareilles-style piano-driven balladry which on its own could feel at home on a theater stage, while the latter provided a distinct bridge between post-grunge ’90s hooks and an adult-alternative mellowness of the early aughts. 

Throughout the set, Morissette and her band segued between songs with interludes that hat-tipped some of her deeper cuts. The most captivating of these was a hypnotic take on “Forgiven” marked by chimey guitars as the vocalist wove through falsetto wisps of the tune’s chorus. This swelled perfectly into “You Learn,” which was one of the set’s greatest highlights. Once again, the crowd reciprocated Morissette’s inspired delivery, a reflection of the song’s effectiveness as a timeless soundtrack-to-life anthem. 

The band shed some sonic layers to perform a more stripped-down series of tunes — the perfect format for a song like “Flinch,” a meditative ballad off of Under Rug Swept. Morissette’s vocal brilliance hit an apex during “Mary Jane,” a devastating tale of an eating disorder whose message was made all the more poignant by the singer’s ability to pull back at key moments while sustaining volume on the most powerful lyrics. The song was boosted by a band set-up that included Spanish-tinged nylon-string guitar and a muted trumpet solo. 

Plugging back in for the remainder of the set, the singer welcomed a young fan named Nia to the stage to help kick off the indelible “Ironic.” The eager vocalist took on the assignment with great confidence as Morissette looked on with pride before taking the baton for the second verse. Choruses quaked from the pavilion up through the lawn with seemingly all in attendance echoing the lyrics back to her. 

More Jagged Little Pill classics powered the remainder of the set, but with Morissette and her band injecting subtle arrangement tweaks that provided fresh perspectives on fan-favorites while still honoring the sing-along quality that fans most embrace. This was most apparent on lead track “All I Really Want” which stirred in wah-guitar leads and emphasized inflection points as the song coalesced. “You Oughta Know” allowed everyone to be the karaoke hero they knew they could, fanning the flames of each line as Morissette shared in amusement. 

“Thank U,” perhaps the songwriter’s biggest hit beyond the Jagged Little Pill track list, bid the audience goodnight with gratitude for years of support and growing admiration. The encore was apropos not only of the journey she has been on over the past few decades, but of where she’s cemented now as a chief influence among the women who dominate today’s Billboard charts.

While Morissette stood stoically but seemingly alone among the bro-rock headliners at Woodstock 99, we’re now at a place 25 years later where artists like Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Kelly Clarkson, and Chappell Roan are the ones leading the conversation, setting the creative bar, and lending new perspective to today’s listeners. It’s no coincidence that each of those musicians cite Alanis Morissette as a massive inspiration and have honored her in their own ways.

And while Morissette’s catalog may live nostalgically in the hearts of many fans, it’s clear that the songwriter continues to blaze a trail to the future with great purpose and influence. 

Setlist for Alanis Morissette at Xfinity Center, July 9, 2024

  • Hand in My Pocket
  • Right Through You
  • Reasons I Drink
  • A Man (snippet)
  • Hands Clean
  • Can’t Not (snippet)
  • Lens
  • Sorry to Myself (snippet)
  • Head Over Feet
  • Forgiven (snippet)
  • You Learn
  • Would Not Come (snippet)
  • Smiling
  • I Remain (snippet)
  • Rest
  • Mary Jane
  • Flinch
  • Perfect
  • Ironic
  • Not the Doctor
  • Are You Still Mad (snippet)
  • All I Really Want
  • Sympathetic Character (snippet)
  • You Oughta Know

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