Alanis Morissette is more than an angry ‘90s singer, and she proved it during rare Tampa concert

Garbage and Cat Power both rocked it, too.

click to enlarge Alanis Morissette plays MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 17, 2021.
Alanis Morissette plays MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 17, 2021.

Believe it or not, it’s been 26 years since you raged over a breakup while blasting Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill in the background. Having stepped away from the synthed-up riffs and sounds of her first two albums—both of which only emerged in Canada—the 57-minute compilation evolved into one of the 1990s’ most quintessential works of art. Though we’re a year late in terms of celebrating the record’s 25th anniversary (thanks, COVID), you never need an excuse to get excited about the former “You Can’t Do That On Television” kid gracing a stage.

Over the last few years, Alanis has become less and less of a Florida regular. She’s previously graced Ruth Eckerd Hall and the old Ice Palace, but hasn’t swung into Tampa Bay since a 2015 acoustic performance at St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater. Six years later, she made her MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater debut on Tuesday night.

When she took Pill on tour for the first time in the mid-‘90s, a pre-OK Computer Radiohead opened many shows along the way. This time, there was a bit more girl power at the mic. Co-headlining was alternative quartet, Garbage (who also hasn’t been to Tampa in a hot minute), as well as indie singer-songwriter Cat Power—the latter of whom is covering for Liz Phair, who canceled all appearances on this tour last month.

Around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, Cat Power, real name Chan Marshall, walked out, sporting an “Alanisa’s Mom” shirt—someone she would sporadically shout out throughout her set. She would kick the evening of female badassery off with a somber cover of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Well, that is until she realized her electric six-string wasn’t in tune. “Forgive me,” Marshall, a WMNF favorite, mumbled a few times, as she properly tuned it.

There was no band to back Marshall up, either. All she needed to excel was her originally untuned electric, a classroom piano, and a half-hour’s worth of her catalog to warm everybody up. And yet, all she could banter about was how Alanis attended her shows a few times early on—and how constantly thinking of Alana’s mom, who she must have been closely acquainted with.

On piano, Marshall gave us a kind of medley performance, featuring the likes of “Names” and “Colors And The Kids,” the latter of which closed up the brief, intimate set. Within a half-hour tops, more and more seats had been filled by beer drinkin’, sweltering hot fans—90% of whom were maskless—and Garbage took a Tampa Bay stage for the first time since December 2001.

Scottish lead singer Shirley Manson—draped in a black top with glittery pink and blue lightning bolts—danced, a.k.a. circled around the microphone on opener “Vows.” Immediately following was “The Men Who Rule The World,” complete with the slot machine opener and all. 

Not that there was a lull during the first few songs, but “Stupid Girl” seemed to be the first true sign of life from whatever amount of sweaty fans already in their seats. The fists went up—as did the cell phones. Whether or not you find the electronics annoying, it was a beautiful feeling to see such musical unity once again, since 2020 was full of livestreams.

A singalong of “I Think I’m Paranoid” was inevitable, as were the still-desperate lyrics of “#1 Crush.” But what wasn’t too expected was the fact that two songs on the setlist had not yet been played on the road this year. “Night Drive Loneliness” was dedicated to a victim of domestic abuse, and “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” was performed in honor of this week marking the 25th anniversary of the release of Garbage’s first record. “Go baby, go baby,” some voices sang while walking to get their waiting-for-Alanis beers about 20 minutes later. “[The record] is fuckin’ older than Alanis!,” Manson joked during her banter.

“Push It” was dedicated to everyone who has had enough of COVID-19 already. As per usual, guitarist Duke Erikson turned in excellent work, as did Jane’s Addiction co-founder and former bassist Eric Avery. Depending on what song was being ripped out, members of the band conformed to each other’s movements whether they were totally stationary, or going as far as forming a guitar triangle. Nobody bounced all over creation like Manson did, but much of that energy went to Alanis Morissette who was hanging out backstage.

click to enlarge Garbage plays MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 17, 2021. - Caesar Carbajal
Caesar Carbajal
Garbage plays MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 17, 2021.

Once Garbage wrapped up its triumphant return to Tampa with “Only Happy When It Rains,” it took nearly 45 minutes for God (in "Dogma," anyway) to embrace Tampa in all its glory. But first, a video montage played. It featured footage from Alanis’ shows from all over the world—as well as David Bowie saying her name, and of course, a few scenes from "Dogma," in which she portrayed God alongside co-stars Jay and Silent Bob. Once what felt like the lengthiest preshow montage ended, Alanis’ five-piece backing band launched into “All I Really Want,'' whilst Alanis herself came strutting out from stage left, blowing the life out of a harmonica.

The blonde goddess, sporting a t-shirt with a lion’s head in gold, was full of energy. Throughout the first three songs of her set, Alanis was sauntering across all corners of the stage, and didn’t stop until she needed water in between songs. On the other hand, contrary to what some may believe, Alanis did not drop the needle on Jagged Little Pill and perform the record the way it was released. She instead hit the shuffle button, and managed to intersperse some of her other, non-Pill songs into the set, whether they were played in full, or as just a snippet. She knew that some of her ride-or-die fans were out there, who knew that their queen was much more than an angry ‘90s album.

Alanis did start with some of the best-known ones from the record, though: Hand gestures going up in the crowd during “Hand In My Pocket,” memories of rage flowed on “Right Through You,” and every voice agreeing—and some relating, with every word of “You Learn.” The show’s first taste of Alanis’ non-Pill discography was a brief interlude of “Hands Clean,” which would go on to introduce “Forgiven.” Each time Alanis would do a snippet, she would turn stage left, towards guitarist Jason Orme. No need to question why—it’s an Alanis thing. You might as well ask why Bob Dylan has all the lights powered down at the end of each of his songs while he’s gracing a stage.

As Alanis and the band introduced more interludes, the idea got more innovative. 2004’s “Everything” segued into the heartbreaking “Mary Jane,” while a full version of “Losing The Plot” introduced an acoustic version of “Wake Up.” As if Alanis’ fans didn’t lose their minds—and voices, enough when she picked up a sparkly black guitar on “Losing The Plot,” the highlights of the evening mainly consisted of songs from Pill. That is, excluding the moments that included her dancing head-banging like nobody was watching. 

There wasn’t a voice in the house that wasn’t hollering out the chorus to “Ironic,” and later, it was the same deal with the main set closer “You Oughta Know.” A generous encore was indeed given, and featured three songs that simply make an Alanis show what it is. “Your House” was played in multiple different musical styles. One moment, she was head-banging again, and the next moment, her voice was getting twangy. “Uninvited” of the star-studded "City of Angels" soundtrack, and closer “Thank U” featured tweets from Alanis’ fans who partook in the #ThankYouJLP25 campaign popped up on the jumbo screen. The campaign asked fans to list what they’re grateful for—pets, family, therapy, and good health were just a few. It was kind of a tear-jerking way to finish a show in COVID-era America.

Despite that, the only (slight) setback here was that jumbo screen that served as each performers’ backdrop, despite the ol’ Gary’s own projection screens on either side of the stage that zoomed in on what was going on onstage. Much of the time, the graphics and videos being shown—mostly relating to female empowerment and the unfortunate presence of misogyny in the world, did convey an insanely important message, but at the same time it took away from the raw talent that was right in front of the thousands of fans who came out.

But like I said before, it’s an Alanis thing. How can you argue with that?

UPDATED 08/20/21 4:30 p.m.

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About The Author

Josh Bradley

Josh Bradley is Creative Loafing Tampa's resident live music freak. He started freelancing with the paper in 2020 at the age of 18, and has since covered, announced, and previewed numerous live shows in Tampa Bay. Check the music section in print and online every week for the latest in local live music.
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