Posted by: chiarraigrrl | January 23, 2011

There’s a fire just waiting for fuel… :)

In fairness, Ani DiFranco could have opened with almost anything and the tear ducts probably would have been set off – but when she strode onto the stage in the National Concert Hall last night and started into “Fuel” from her “Little Plastic Castle” album, I suddenly had something in my eye, it being one of the two songs I was secretly hoping to hear (but most definitely not expecting).

Second song “angry anymore” from her “up up up up up up” album finished with a comment that songs about family were at best “hopeful”, and of course grinning that the media had a field day with a song that said she wasn’t angry anymore when she had made her name with angry songs. “Manhole”, from her 2005 release “Knuckle Down”, was another happy surprise (it being the second song I was hoping against hope to hear). A set that also included “Alla This”, “Smiling Underneath”, “Lag Time”, and “Reckoning” largely showcased a lot of songs so new they haven’t been released on an album yet, including a marriage song and “If You’re Not”, which inspired laughter and much applause at the line “If you’re not getting happier as you get older/ then you’re fuckin up”. Another new song she’s written recently while living in New Orleans references the destruction wrought by Katrina and the Gulf oil spill, and registers her disappointment with Barack Obama in a line to the effect that “dude could be FDR but he just shuffles his feet”. When someone cheered at the opening of “Smiling Underneath” from her 2008 “Red Letter Year” album, she started laughing that she was surprised anyone could recognise it with the guitar – when she and her producer husband were doing the tracking on the album, he muted her guitar, and she laughed saying “only the love of your life can mute your guitar”. Another entertaining moment came when someone shouted something unintelligible early on in her set, and she laughed, saying “hear what you wanna hear”, going on to say that in the midst of the din of people requesting songs at a lot of her shows, she always hears a voice saying “play what you wanna play!”- a comment that garnered a round of enthusiastic applause from the audience at the NCH. She finished her set with a labour song from the 1930s which she had updated “in the folk process”, “Which Side Are You On?”- which seemed incredibly appropriate these days.

Of course, the crowd weren’t going to let her go that easily, and when she came out to do her encore and started with “Gravel” from “Little Plastic Castle”, the place erupted – and she started laughing, and said something to the effect that we were so nice to listen so politely to a night of new stuff. The encore was finished out with “Both Hands” (from 1990’s “Ani DiFranco” album) and “Untouchable Face” (from her 1996 release “Dilate”) had the audience singing along, bopping around and clapping rhythmically at the choruses of the songs- a development which seemed to greatly amuse the Little Folksinger.

A wonderful night seemed to have been had by all. A little clip of “If You’re Not” (from a different performance, not last night’s) for your enjoyment…:


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