Monday, September 24, 2012

Joyful Girl: Ani Difranco At First Avenue 9/23/12

I am so glad I went to see Ani Difranco last night. I would have missed a fantastic show.

I was by myself, which was nice because it made me more mobile – or really less mobile as I found a spot up front and stayed there for the 45 minutes pre-opener, all through the opener and all through Ani. But being myself made it so I took up less space and made it easier to find that spot up front.

In the 15 or so years I’ve been going to Ani Difranco concerts, I’ve never been that close. There was one show some years ago where I had seats at the very back of the auditorium and some people left and stopped at my seat and said they had been sitting in the third row but they have to leave so we can have their seats. It was very random and very kind and we did move and we were close, but not as close as I was last night.

It makes all the difference in the world and is totally worth it to get a spot up front – especially for an artist you really love. All the bullshit happens behind you and you don’t notice it. You just are able to focus and have a fantastic time. It really feels like you’re a part of the show.

There was a fight that almost broke out next to me and I just don’t understand why she attracts such assholes for fans. Obviously, not all of them. But a large portion of them are super unruly jerks who are really disrespectful. It’s very strange. The guy had to be escorted out by security.

Ani, though…Ani was fantastic.

She’s pregnant again and you could just see the belly emerging, but she still bounced around as much as ever. I can’t begin to say how inspiring it is to watch her as a performer and a songwriter. I usually leave most live shows wanting to play my guitar all night long, but with her I want to dive in and write a whole album and run out and perform it. I learned to play guitar by learning her songs. She’s always inspired me and 16 + years later, it’s still no different. 

It was also her 42nd birthday and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

She broke out a really old song that I don’t think anyone ever expected her to ever play again. “The Whole Night” is from her second album from all the way back in 1992 and I don’t think she’s played it since then. It was a great version and that alone was worth the ticket fee.

Well, that, and she played “Joyful Girl”, my favorite song of hers and another one she doesn’t pull out that often. It was beautiful. I almost cried. 

She seemed to be in such a joyful mood, too. Maybe it's that whole pregnancy glow thing - or the fact that it was her birthday - but she seemed to be having a really good time. She just seems genuinely happy. It was good energy.

And I got a set list! My first Ani set list. These are sort of collector’s items if you’re a fan of hers. It will be framed.

I also must mention the opener Pearl and the Beard. They were spectacular. Super energetic, foot stomping, harmonic and playful. Check ‘em out.

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