Alanis Morissette and the Barenaked Ladies in concert.
A Canadian Odd Couple_S.E. Shepherd-Alanis Morissette and the Barenaked Ladies in concert
“I went to a show advertising ‘bare naked ladies.’ Turns out it was a band of fully-dressed men!” - joke
Well, actually there was one lady, but she was fully clothed too.
The modern music world has caused some strange side effects. With soaring ticket prices, mp3 downloading, and the cost of touring on the rise, modern bands that would normally headline on their own are finding it necessary to couple with other big acts just to fill the crowds. Such circumstances led to the double billing of Alanis Morissette and fellow Canadians, the Barenaked Ladies, Wednesday, July 21, 2004, at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, IL. Initially the “queen of angst” would seem to draw quite a different crowd than humor-laden quintet, but the bands did compliment each other strangely.
The acts have been switching off as headliners throughout the tour, and at this particular venue it was BNL, with Morissette serving as the “opening” act. Morissette drew heavily from her well-received debut album, 1996’s Jagged Little Pill, splicing in some cuts from her newest CD, So Called Chaos, and hits from her other albums. Her angry lyrics were often under-minded by a casual stage presence and ever-present smile. It was as if Morissette knew what the crowd wanted, and delivered it, but also let the crowd know that her wrath has subsided a bit, and she’s worked past some of the venom that fueled such hits as “You Oughta Know.”
Morissette did perform “You Oughta Know,” as well as her other hits, and put her band and the audience through a sonic set packed with a lot of punch. She even invited her tour mates to join her for a cameo in her encore performance of “You Learn,” a highlight of her set. Morissette closed with her most recent hit, “Everything,” which made sort of an ironic segue to the Barenaked Ladies, whose most recent CD is entitled Everything to Everyone.
Unlike Morissette, BNL did draw most of their material from their current CD, although they did open with one of their earliest hits, “Brian Wilson.” A sharp contrast Morissette’s subdued stage demeanor, BNL came out full-force, playing rock band to the hilt. The Barenaked Ladies’ high energy set was flavored with recent hits, a few older gems, and occasional improvs about Tinley Park. Singer Ed Robertson made a few sarcastic comments about the distance of Tinley Park’s distance to Chicago. “Really, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Chicago. And it’s really just a hop, skip, jump, jaunt, slight walk, bus transfer, and a good run from downtown Chicago!”
The Barenaked Ladies broke briefly from their electrified set to perform a string of acoustic numbers, standing around one microphone, and bluegrass-style. The gem of this set was a slightly slowed-down, acoustic version of “One Week.”
Other highlights of the concert were an improvised rap about the weather (it was a sweltering, humid evening at an outdoor venue), a new unreleased song performed live, and the regular set closer “Shopping.” “Shopping” included four prop shopping carts and a hilarious choreographed dance/synchronized swimming sequence that had to be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Like much of BNL’s music, the humor of the dance hid the fact that this was actually a polished and well-rehearsed routine, executed at a level that shows a true talent of the performers.
BNL closed with an encore sing-a-long of their very first hit, “If I Had A Million Dollars,” where singer Stephen Page informed the crowd that the concert had been powered by Tinley Parks wind “turbins.” Co-singer Robertson corrected him by calling them “turbines,” but Page rebutted, “the power company people call them ‘turbins,’ and since some of them may be in the audience I wanted them to think I was as cool as they were.” Page finished the encore with a cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “Don’t Know Much,” for no known reason, other than he could.
Seeing both Alanis Morissette and the Barenaked Ladies at the same concert made this one of the best concerts I had seen in recent years, and even made the hour and a half drive from Chicago seem worth it. I would love to see them both in concert again and would highly recommend even the casual fan to see their shows.