Why this gig?
I don’t rush out and buy every Ani DiFranco album as it’s released, but I like listening to her and she’s great live. I had a ticket to see her at the Union Chapel a couple of years ago, but I broke my leg and couldn’t get there. So it was great to get another chance to see her in such a great venue.
I’m writing this several weeks after seeing the show. The support was called Shabsi Mann. I remember that I enjoyed her performance on the night, but I really can’t remember much about that performance. That’s probably not a great sign.
Ani DiFranco is the kind of performer who inspires passionate devotion in her fans. And while I love her music, I confess that I don’t really understand that devotion. She writes great songs and she performs them really well on stage. She obviously feels a great connection with her audience and the Union Chapel is the perfect venue for such an intimate show. But I’m obviously missing something. Perhaps it’s that I came to her music relatively late in life. I suspect that a lot of her audience believes that her lyrics helped them through a period of of teenage angst.
I know that sounds cynical and I really don’t mean it that way. I think it’s great that she has this connection with her audience and I’m a little jealous that I don’t share that connection.
That all said though, this is a great show. I’ve been listening to a lot more Ani DiFranco music since I last saw her about four years ago – when I recognised about two of the songs she played – and this time I know about half of the set. And that’s better than it sounds as about a quarter of the set comes from an unreleased new album.
This is the first of two nights she is playing at the Union Chapel. At the end of the even ing she notes that it will be a completely different set the following night (“so if I’ve played all your favourites tonight – maybe stay at home”). And coming from Ani DiFranco that sounds completely plausible. She is completely capable of playing a different set every day of the week and keeping the quality just as high.
I’ll be really surprised if this show doesn’t make it to my list of highlights for the year.