fb-pixel Skip to main content
MUSIC REVIEW

At the Xfinity Center, Alanis Morissette celebrates a jagged little milestone

Alanis Morissette performs at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.
Alanis Morissette performs at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.Stew Milne for The Boston Globe

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you, as Alanis Morissette first sang more than a quarter-century ago. She sang it again, of course, on Saturday at the Xfinity Center: “Ironic” was one of the massive hits that pushed the singer’s 1995 album, “Jagged Little Pill,” onto the short list of the best-selling albums of all time.

A lot of life has snuck up on Morissette in the years since she ascended as a pop goddess. She became a mother three times over, and an avid activist for women’s health and well-being. Her former manager went to prison for embezzlement. The Broadway production of a musical based on “Jagged Little Pill,” which debuted in 2019, earned 15 Tony nominations.

Advertisement



Life has snuck up on the fans that have stuck with her, too. At the show in Mansfield, part of the “Jagged Little Pill” 25th anniversary tour that went on hiatus when the pandemic began, a not-quite-full but exuberant house sang along with Morissette’s unmistakably acrobatic voice as she and her band stomped through the tracks on her blockbuster album and other career highlights.

The whole bill was so ‘90s, they might have shown “Friends” reruns on the big screen before the show. Instead, after Cat Power played a brief, quavering solo opening set, the irrepressible Shirley Manson and her band Garbage took the stage for the better part of a bombastic hour. It felt perfectly calibrated to the sense of release accompanying the return to live music.

From a Giorgio Moroder-inspired synth intro on “Stupid Girl” to the us-and-them provocation of “Not Your Kind of People,” Garbage delivered a loud, abrasive, technically proficient set that was, above all, just plain fun. Just what the doctor ordered.

“What a glorious sight for sore eyes,” said Manson, gazing out at the wide grins in the crowd, her black spangled shift glittering.

Advertisement



Morissette took the stage a few minutes past 9. Wearing an oversize T-shirt, vinyl pants, and shell toe sneakers, she prowled purposefully from one end to the other, as if to reclaim the space as her own.

She opened with several tracks from the anniversary album, playing gale-force harmonica on “All I Really Want” (answer: a man who will talk) and raising a triumphant peace sign on “Hand in My Pocket” (“I’m high but I’m grounded, I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed”).

The bouncy, piano-based “Reasons I Drink,” from her 2020 album “Such Pretty Forks in the Road,” was one of a handful of more recent songs that have carried on her career-long project of full disclosure. Guitarist Julian Coryell, anchoring stage right behind a black face mask and a broad-brimmed hat, traded showcases with his counterpart, Jason Orme, who combined dreamy prog-rock interludes with power-ballad chords. On “Smiling,” the band built from ominous restraint to a roaring, extended finish, during which Morissette whipped her long hair in circles as the lights strobed.

She had plenty of time to catch her breath on the set’s last song, “You Oughta Know,” as the audience shouted every word at her. All of the audience — the men, too. Her righteous female energy is not for the ladies only.

A three-song encore began with a playful series of false starts on “Your House,” the a cappella track hidden on the original release of “Jagged Little Pill.” The band tried it on as a jazzy supper-club number, a disco dance-floor filler, and a reggae groove.

Advertisement



The haunting “Uninvited,” written for the 1998 film “City of Angels,” was suitably epic for a finale. And “Thank U,” written that year as a self-directed pep talk, was repurposed as a gesture to the fans who have stuck with Alanis into their collective middle age.

“How about me enjoying the moment for once?” she sang. The crowd, of course, sang along.

ALANIS MORISSETTE

With Cat Power, Garbage

At the Xfinity Center, Mansfield, Saturday

E-mail James Sullivan at jamesgsullivan@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @sullivanjames.