In between albums, vulnerable, powerful, and as joyful as ever.
There’s something very special about going to see the prolific poet/singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco when she’s touring free of a new record to promote. Beyond the excitement a wide-open set list brings, there’s a feeling in the room that Ani is there for perhaps another, more meaningful reason. For those who sauntered out into the cold Portland mist from the warmth of the sold out Aladdin last night, enthralled and re-inspired, they know what that reason was. Here’s the recap.
Funny and self-effacing as ever, Ani began the night by admitting to “crying all day” over “every little thing.” Throughout the night, between each song, she was incredibly candid and poignant, discussing her love of her children, her mental health, and her continued belief the world can change.
Longtime bassist Todd Sickafoose and new, New Orleans native drummer and kazoo master Terence Higgins accompanied her as she dove deep into her catalogue, hitting eight of 11 studio albums, while sprinkling in three admittedly blues and country influenced songs for a new album currently in the works. All three were throwbacks lyrically to Ani’s early work, where she wrestled soulfully and simply with interpersonal relationships.
Ani got “Buildings and Bridges” and “32 Flavors” out of the way early in the night to make room for other moving songs like “Marrow” and “Grey” from her double album “Reveling/Reckoning.” She ended her first set with the crowd singing along under bright white stage lights to “Untouchable Face,” “As is” and “Napoleon” before, with arms and smile wide, she fell backwards just as the stage went completely black.
Returning for her one encore, Ani said goodnight with synergistic help of the night’s impressive opener Jenny Scheinman on violin, thanking the crowd graciously before serenading them with her poetic biosong “Joyful Girl,” prefacing it by saying “this is a song about me and my favorite job in the world.”
It was a job well done last night for sure. Catch her if you can at the Moore in Seattle this weekend if you are interested in seeing Ani in her evolving prime.