Acoustic show from Alanis Morissette draws mellow crowd to Maine State Pier in Portland

Posted Aug. 24, 2014, at 5:58 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 24, 2014, at 4:39 p.m.

It may be a Waterfront Concerts show, but the Maine State Pier in Portland is a very different venue from the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor. It’s intimate, it’s laid-back, and concerts are occasionally punctuated by the sound of horns from the incoming Casco Bay Ferry, rather than the trains that rattle through the Bangor Waterfront.

Alanis Morissette — the icon of 1990s rock and an artist with devoted fans of her landmark 1995 “Jagged Little Pill” — played the fourth Waterfront Concert of the year at the Maine State Pier on Saturday night.

It was an entirely acoustic set that combined many of her songs from “Jagged,” from concert opener “You Learn” to her biggest hit, “You Oughta Know,” with more recent favorites such as “Uninvited” and “Thank You.”

“Oh yeah, I love her music. I loved that album in high school. We listened to it all the time,” said Cara Reilly of Nashua, New Hampshire. “This is my first time seeing a show on the Pier … and it’s my first time at a Waterfront Concert.”

Old Town-based Waterfront Concerts has expanded its reach, booking shows in all three of Maine’s major cities. In addition to Bangor and Portland, Alex Gray, company president, also has booked intermittent shows at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. But this year, Portland has grown to become a much larger portion of the yearly slate of shows.

Since 2013, Waterfront Concerts has booked shows at the Asylum, a 650-capacity venue on Center Street, and this year, it began booking concerts at the Maine State Pier, which has a capacity of 3,000. So far this year, country star Dierks Bentley, modern rock band Three Doors Down and the Portland Reggae Fest have performed at the Maine State Pier. After Saturday’s Morissette concert, the final concert in the Pier series is ZZ Top on Sept. 27.

Though Waterfront Concerts is rapidly becoming a household name among live music fans in Maine and New Brunswick, in other parts of New England it is less so. In fact, Kelly Cadiver of New Gloucester, Massachusetts, hadn’t heard about Waterfront Concerts until the day of the show.

“I’ll be honest, this was news to me until my friend bought us all tickets to see Alanis,” said Cadiver, who was in attendance with a large group of friends from the Boston area. “I heard there were concerts in Bangor, but that’s all I knew. I think it’s really cool there’s music on the ocean, though. That’s really nice.”

The Morissette concert drew a crowd largely comprised of women, mostly in their 30s and 40s — though other concerts, such as Portland Reggae Fest, drew a much more mixed audience. In the end though, it’s the artist that draws the fans, not the venue or the organization booking the shows.

Luckily for music fans in Portland and Bangor, Gray and company have excelled at bringing artists that appeal to a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and tastes.