Alanis Morissette acoustic live 2014

Alanis Morissette Shines In Acoustic Set Westbury, NY 7-26-14

Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette is one of the most defining voices of the 1990s generation. Coming onto the music scene when grunge dominated rock-n-roll, her appeal reached a broad audience from alternative rock fans to individuals seeking empowerment in the form of song. Taking the world by storm with her third studio album Jagged Little Pill in 1995, Morissette became a superstar, selling well over thirty-three million records and creating a masterpiece for the ages.  

Astoundingly, approaching the twenty year anniversary of the landmark release in 2015, fans still adore the seven-time Grammy winning vocalist and yearn to see her on stage performing. Spending extensive time touring for the better part of the past two decades, Morissette took some time off for herself after the 2012-13 tour in support of her eighth studio album Havoc and Bright Lights.  Patiently awaiting her return to the stage, in the summer of 2014 Morissette treated a handful of venues in North America to a special intimate and acoustic tour. On Saturday July 26th, one of the lucky destinations to host the event was NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY. Configured in a half-round, the theater packed out quickly as fans of different backgrounds gathered from near and far to experience this rare performance. Many had come from as far as Massachusetts, Kentucky, and even Ireland for a chance to see Morissette.

Warming up the stage was a singer-songwriter by the name of Lynx. Originally from Colorado, the multi-instrumentalist musician now resides in Portland, OR as she continues to craft her own music, her own way. Taking to the stage with just herself, an acoustic guitar, drum, and computer loaded with samples, Lynx sang vividly while drawing attention from those arriving early to locate their seats.  Combining the songwriting of a folk artist with modern electronic beats, Lynx’s style can be best described as inventive and unique. She moved through her set with an atmospheric mix of sounds, making for an exciting listen. Soft spoken, she bravely conversed with the audience between songs and received a warm ovation upon the conclusion of her time on stage. Lynx’s newest album Light Up Your Lantern is out now.

After a brief intermission and a few drinks on the relaxed outdoor patio, everyone gathered back in the theater to await Morissette. With three stools and a microphone set at the front of the stage, back-dropped by a large curtain dressed with a rainbow of light, Morissette and two guitarists walked out to a standing ovation.  Still nervous after all these years, Morissette took her seat center stage and began with the track “You Learn.” Without the support of a full electric band her voice was completely naked and exposed to this sold out crowd.

Moving on, with songs like “Baba” and “Hand in My Pocket” it became clear Morissette’s nerves were not getting the best of her. She found trust in the audience as they showered her with praise any chance they had.  Like sitting in the comfort of one’s own living room, fans vocalized such things as “I love you Alanis” to “You’re beautiful” received a personal response from the vocalist; humbled, gracious, and glowing with love.

Open and casual with the room, Morissette was charismatic, funny, and sincere speaking of her life experiences in between songs. Given a closer glimpse into the soul of the singer, the restraint of spectators during the acoustic set was impeccable as she played on with such songs as “Hands Clean” and “Right Through You”.  Recalling her time after the recording of Jagged Little Pill, Morissette spoke of how the record label asked her to re-record the album in a softer tone. Reluctant to do so she eventually did, but stated the record label ended up liking the original pull-no-punches version of the album instead, and that is what everyone knows today.  Uplifting to hear and igniting more cheers, it was those well delivered stories that made the performance more than just a concert; this was a personal journey into the life of an inspiring human being.  

Other tracks like “Not the Doctor” were followed by a beautiful ukulele textured “Mary Jane.”  Judging by the attentiveness of the audience it is easy to see how important these songs are to people. Morissette sang with passion and gave each song the undivided energy it so rightfully deserved.  Without the benefit of modern studio magic cushioning her voice, she sang with true human inflection and emotion, sending shivers through the core of each listener.

Giving the theater more insight into her personal life, she spoke of her struggle to want to write new music at points in her career, being a parent, as well as a child. Conveying the same feelings most have, there was no sense Morissette was placating to the audience and this was a real life outpour of her thoughts. Playing the beautiful song “Guardian” followed by the mother inspired “Heart of the House,” the feelings of love kept flowing.  There was no resistance in her delivery and with that the fans were immersed so deep in the experience, expressing perpetual smiles on their faces. Continuing to praise Morissette any moment there was silence, the singer did not waver and give in to her emotions as she went into the unforgettable hit “Head Over Feet”. The song sounded as powerful as ever and proved that a well-written piece of music never gets old.

With so many moving moments passed already, Morissette then gave the audience the biggest surprise introducing the track “No Pressure Over Cappuccino.”  As a highly regarded fan favorite, the song’s only official recording was back in 1999 on Morissette’s MTV Unplugged album. Seldom heard live since then, fans clamored to hear it as Morissette openly spoke that the track was in fact about her twin brother Wade. So silent a pin drop could be heard throughout the rendition, upon the conclusion, Morissette received a standing ovation as the emotion of the song overwhelmed her and she wept. Keeping her composure, she moved along into other touching songs such as “Everything” and “All I Really Want.” Hanging on her every word, the venue continued to be mesmerized by Morissette as she went into the haunting Wings of Desire (1987) inspired “Uninvited.” Stripped down to the bare bones of vocals and acoustic guitars, the intensity of the track filled the air. It was at this point Morissette playfully told the crowd that the encore would be taking place rather than exit the stage. Receiving a massive standing ovation of cheers that did not fade, everyone remained on their feet as she played “Ironic” followed by closer “Thank U.”

Morissette’s rare appearance was not only exciting but a memory which will last a lifetime for everyone who attended.  Her personality was warm, real, and endearing with vulnerability. To be able to sing a track strongly is one thing, but to evoke the true essence of those very words is truly remarkable. Morissette does exactly that with every song she sings. Her acoustic performance at NYCB Theater at Westbury helped stamp her legacy as one of the best performing vocalists of the last two decades.

Photo contribution credit Mark Schoen Photography where marked

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