The Tour When Radiohead Opened for Alanis Morissette

Twenty years ago, these artists were headed in very different directions than they are now

01 Jul 1996 --- "Radiohead photographed in New York City, 1996.    © Dennis Kleiman / Retna Ltd. *** NO USA***" --- Image by © Dennis Kleiman/Retna Ltd./Corbis

The touring tandem seemed a little odd then but seems downright implausible now. But in August 1996, Radiohead opened 13 shows for Alanis Morissette (yes, that Alanis Morissette). At the time, Morissette and Radiohead’s careers were very much headed in opposite directions. Morissette had just released her fourth of six eventual singles (“You Learn”) on Jagged Little Pill, an album that would go on to sell 33-million albums worldwide.

Radiohead, on the other hand, had released their sophomore record, The Bends, five months earlier and it had largely fallen on deaf ears; neither single on the album (“Just” and “Fake Plastic Trees”) could match the monstrous success of Pablo Honey’s “Creep,” which prematurely landed the band in one-hit wonder purgatory. Incidentally, Morissette would later cover “Fake Plastic Trees.”


It was clear Radiohead were already distancing themselves from their solitary hit when the tour launched on August 12 in Buffalo, NY. That night, as they did for the entire month-long tour, Radiohead performed “Creep” smack dab in the middle of the set (when late-comers would never hear it), choosing instead to close their set with three songs from The Bends. They’d even use this unorthodox undercard slot to debut songs from the forthcoming OK Computer, including “Karma Police” and “Climbing Up the Walls.” (Below is live footage of Radiohead performing “Paranoid Android” on the Morissette tour)

On Morissette’s end, she performed the whole of Jagged Little Pill, but nothing from the two bubblegum pop albums that preceded it (but she pretended didn’t exist), and was backed by future Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins on drums.

Today, The Bends is considered one of their strongest albums, although they’ve released several on par since. By comparison, Morissette’s career was quite the comedown after Jagged Little Pill.  She certainly flogged the album enough, having released a 1999 MTV Unplugged set, which features several songs from the album, a Jagged Live Pill Acoustic album and four-CD Collector’s Edition of the aforementioned album, released just last year.

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