Written by Samuel Barker
May 18, 2002 at 08:00 PM
ImageJust as female singers were coming back to the low point they held in the 50s, as mouthpieces for songwriters selling product over talent, Alanis Morissette returns from dormancy to reclaim some respect for the female songwriter/rock artist.

Morissette is best known for her anger-ridden, from-the-heart tirades about love lost and searching for respect in the music industry. These themes were all in tact, but there was also a playful nature, which made the songs enjoyable to experience.

Opening her set with “Baba,” Morissette began displaying her maturing songwriting skills with the worldly feel of the music. Lyrically, the song is a questioning of religions and orders of belief, while musically it melded the music of many genres, similarly to the recent offering from fellow female musician, Natalie Merchant.

Vocally, Morissette was stronger than ever. Her commanding voice calls for attention and holds a listener, if not only for fear of reprimand. Through songs such as “Purgatory,” Morissette displayed her ability to use her voice as an instrument, not just a conveyance for ideas through words.

Combining her insightful new material with old favorites, Morissette provided a vivid picture as to how she has matured as a person and how she has changed emotionally. Amazingly enough, she was able to grasp the same anger and emotion she originally displayed with songs such as “You Oughta Know.”

Beyond all the technical banter, Morissette came to have fun. She danced on the stage and ran from end to end, much like a child who is putting on a pretend concert in their bedroom. She played to the members of her band and to the fans who happily sang along.

Adding to the fun was opener Ryan Adams, who, along with his band, set up a mock living room on the side of the stage, which they manned for the better part of the set. One member, complete with diaper and “gimp” mask, danced on the stage and took an active part in the set.

No matter how hard she tried, Morissette could not hold back her laughter, laughing mid-song. After calling them out to no avail, Morissette decided to play with the boys. At one point, she climbed on top of the coffee table and played guitar for the group, who happily played along. At one point, Morissette explained that it was Adams’ last night on tour with her, which was jokingly exaggerated with a tone of relief.

As she opened her encore with “You Learn,” Morissette danced like a child and ran circles around the entire stage set-up. She jumped on the couches and the members of Ryan Adams’ band. She then climbed onto Adams’ chair and bounced on Adams. This jubilant display was something missing from the scripted, stand-still sets that have become custom in rock currently.

Opener Ryan Adams kept the humor from his opening set going throughout the show, opening his set with a song devoted to Alanis aptly titled “Alanis.”

As Adams took initially took to the stage, on crutches, one could only speculate how this singer/songwriter had injured himself, which he cleared up mid-set by simply saying, “Dallas has nice skate parks, Austin has really nice hospitals and now I’m in Houston.” However, for fear of looking weak, Adams added, “You should see the other ramp.”

Covering songs from his new solo release, Gold, Adams played a short, but interesting set which saw he and his band being wrapped in toilet paper, Adams bouncing up and off the monitors on one leg and him attacking a microphone stand with a crutch.

Closing with a blistering cover of the Rolling Stones classic, “Brown Sugar,” Ryan Adams did his best Mick Jagger impersonation. The song definitely warmed everyone up for the coming set from Morissette and will put a definite mark on those present to pick up Adams’ latest effort.