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Alanis Fantasy World

[whitespace] Shirley Manson of Garbage and Alanis Morissette draw worshipful crowds to San Jose Arena

By Sarah Quelland

At least one radical Jesus freak is picketing outside the San Jose Arena on April Fool's Day, shouting warnings of fire and brimstone through a bullhorn at the large crowd lined up to see two of the leading ladies of rock: Alanis Morissette and Garbage's Shirley Manson.

It's surprising that someone would vehemently protest Garbage and Morissette with more misguided anger than the picketers outside the Marilyn Manson show in March at the Cow Palace. Perhaps the strong ideals of these outspoken women are especially threatening. Or perhaps he has simply confused Shirley with Marilyn and thinks he's taking a stand against the one-time self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar.

Known for her ballsy attitude, tonight's Manson enters the stage wearing an orange vest with a faux fur-lined hood--which she later takes off to reveal a glittery sequined top--black pants, neon green bands around her wrists and neck and athletic shoes. Her hair is pulled back in a smart ponytail with a small braid starting from the center of her hairline. She is obviously the star attraction of this heavy-edged pop band, and the spotlight shone almost exclusively on her during Garbage's first few songs.

"What a fuckin' drag it is to see you," she announces to the audience, then delights in yelling "April Fool!"

Her voice is dark, raspy and lovely on "Medication." During the slightly perverse "#1 Crush," from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, she prowls the stage with a serpentine grace. Running and skipping in a circle, Manson playfully involves the other members of Garbage as well as the audience.

Following the favorite "Stupid Girl," Manson addresses the audience in a thick Scottish accent: "Thanks for being so noisy." She goes on to repeat the phrase "Thank you so much" many times.

Although they are on tour together, it appears that Manson and Morissette don't spend much time together. Claiming she hadn't seen her lately, Manson asks the audience, "If you see her tonight, will you tell her I said hi?" She pauses and then adds, "Okay, maybe you don't understand my accent," and slowly repeats, "If you see her tonight, will you tell her I said hi?"

Performing popular hits like "I Think I'm Paranoid" and "Push It," along with Garbage's current single, "Special," before breaking into the melancholy "Only Happy When It Rains," Manson makes a dedication: "This is for all the people in the audience who came to our shows over the past four years."

By this point, the crowd in the chair seating on the floor (the concert would be more exciting if everyone could stand) is on its feet. Manson closes the show saying, "Thank you for your applause--even though I fucked it up."

As soon as Morissette appears, the entire crowd stands and cheers. Wearing a black shirt, a skirt over pants and athletic shoes (apparently these days function comes before fashion), Morissette begins with lesser-known songs. Unfortunately, her vocals need to be turned up louder because her band is drowning out her unusual voice throughout the show.

With her long brown hair a disheveled mess, Morissette dashes about the stage like a little kid. She stumbles, almost puppetlike at times, losing herself in her songs. Engaging to watch, she demonstrates a humbleness, particularly during one point in the show when a girl rushes onstage, hugs her and bows before her; Morissette immediately bows as well.

She moves skillfully through popular favorites from her breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, including "Hand In My Pocket," "All I Really Want," "Right Through You" and "You Learn," as well as songs from the newer Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, including "Sympathetic Character" and "Are You Still Mad?" She also delivers a pulsating version of the scathing "You Oughta Know" that is intriguingly all build-up and no release.

The show is energetic and compelling, but the numerous encores are tedious. The first return begins with an extended piano solo that segues into "Uninvited" from the City of Angels soundtrack. She comes back a second time for "Thank U" and "Ironic."

At this point, the show should be over, but it drags on for a third encore with "Unsent." Then a brief movie about Alanis airs on a giant screen behind her. A series of shorts show as she re-enters to perform two more songs before leaving the stage for good.

Drained by all the encores, the audiences leaves subdued rather than pumped full of adrenaline.

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Web extra to the April 8-14, 1999 issue of Metro.

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