Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Things I Do For Love

I wrote the following review of an Ani DiFranco show for Paste Magazine several months ago but it didn’t make it through the editorial process (grrr!) so I figured I could post it here. I spent time writing it so I think someone should at least read the damn thing.

The thing is, I’m not really even a fan of hers and I was trapped into going because Adrienne wanted free tickets to the sold-out show and since some strings had to be pulled through Ani’s management by Paste’s editor, I was asked to write a review in return. What’s funny is that Adrienne ended up being too sick to go and Paste never even ran it.

But I did, however, end up spending a lovely evening with several hundred women (I made up approximately 25% of the male population at the show), so who am I to complain?

So here it is:

Ani DiFranco at the Variety Playhouse

"One Hundred and Fifty songs and no hooks", quipped Ani DiFranco halfway into her set to a sold-out Tuesday night crowd at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse. Apparently, she was content with that deprecating characterization of her catalog.

The lack of catchy melodies certainly didn’t seem to matter much to her fans as they sang along to every word and mirrored every inflection of her vagarious voice; the impromptu choir soaring so loud that it occasionally drowned out the powerful P.A. and band. DiFranco welcomed the energy from the crowd and seemed fueled by it as she beat her instrument into submission with her signature percussive, finger-picked attack on such fan favorites as "Not A Pretty Girl", "Napoleon" and "Shameless".

In an industry so obsessed with colossal hooks and massive choruses, it’s hard to imagine an artist like Ani DiFranco being successful in any other way but on her own terms. From peddling cassette tape demos at shows in the late Eighties to selling over four million records on her own label, Righteous Babe Records, she’s consistently done things her way. She’s toured relentlessly and put out an intimidating number of releases over the span of almost twenty years, winning over fans like a true traveling minstrel --one at a time.

For this particular show she pulled songs spanning her entire catalog, much like her September release, Canon, a double-disc career retrospective. Still wanting to please her long-time fans, she derailed from the set list to fulfill some requests and pervaded the time in between songs with her charismatic banter, tackling a wide range of topics from her ten month-old baby daughter to her appreciation of the Atlanta-based Southern Center For Human Rights.

Hooks or no hooks, on this night Ani DiFranco had the audience reeled.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you had a real blog too, subscribed. :)

    Thanks for the 22books link.




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