Ani DiFranco & Anaïs Mitchell @ 6th + I Synagogue, Oct 25 2011.
We begin with a singer/songwriter on acoustic guitar, just as we will have for the main act as well. Ms. Mitchell has a nice soft strum which she hits with an impact that creates a little tension even with the softer string sound. Her tight and strong voice clearly delivers her lyrics and is easy to listen to.
I like that she has some longer songs and seems to tell a story quite well. I think that is her strength more than her poetry, perhaps. Although to be fair, it is hard to give a good analysis of this at a live show, although any cliches do tend to jump out. She did songs from a folk opera she wrote which sounds very interesting. She did well with the crowd in her solid half-hour set and succeeded with me in that I not only enjoyed the set, but am curious to hear more of her work in full.
Amazingly enough even with all the folk records I review, I really have not heard a lot of Ani DiFranco music over the years. I always knew she was somebody I should listen to further and a show in the synagogue is as good as place as any to become familiar with her music.
She has a lot of energy tonight which I am guessing is the norm as she seems to have a good personality for going solo. The songs are good with solid vocal dynamics that really highlight the qualities of her writing. Her guitar work is well above what I normally hear as well. She really sounds more rock than folk and has all kinds of fills and runs that you don't usually hear in a folk set.
The ninety minutes flew by with great music, nice stage patter and even a couple of songs with Anaïs Mitchell helping out (first on vocals, then on vocals and guitar). The guitar tech was ready with a new guitar for each song due probably to alternate tunings as well as DiFranco's forceful playing style. Great energy, nice songs and a set that she said would be entirely different from the one she would do the next night if anyone was coming to both sold-out shows. That is the sign of a pro who treats her audience well.
It took me a while, but I am glad I finally caught up with her. And I would guess she'll still be moving at a fast pace hereon.
Ani DiFranco does the usual protest songs and they are fine, but she made this comment... "Do you believe this Congress? I mean, there ought to be a law where we could impeach them for not letting the President do anything." Really? Is this something you also said 5-10 years ago? You might want to take a look at fascism more closely. It is great when you have someone good and who you like in the job, but watch out when you don't. See the Roman Empire for the pluses and minuses once Caesar overtook the Republic. But of course, I think everyone understands this frustration.
First published @ dcrocklive.blogspot.com.
Photo Credits: (1) Anaïs Mitchell, (2) Ani DiFranco (by Wikipedia).