Ani Difranco is the most ferocious guitar player I have ever seen. I would dare any hotshot electric guitarist to shred an acoustic with half of the fervor and intense precision as this tiny-but-mighty folkie, who needed only a fistful of heavy-duty press-on nails and a well-tuned Alvarez to kick the ass out of any crunch pedal out there. And last night, she came out guns blazing in her solo acoustic show at the Egg.
I have seen Ani perform perhaps over a dozen times over the past 18 years, yet to me, her shows never get old. At last night’s show, her bubbly, rambling between-song banter was just as entertaining as the focused, passionate delivery of songs that span her prolific canon of albums. Even the songs that I don’t know, or don’t really love in recorded form, came to life in a remarkable show of what one voice and one guitar are capable of. I started off the evening slightly disappointed that she didn’t bring her band along for the ride, but by the second song, Manhole, I was sold. In many ways, the absence of other instrumentation really allowed Ani to display just how extraordinary – and powerful – her guitar playing is.
Ani is known for her leftist political diatribes and commentary onstage, and last night was no exception. As much as I disagree with some of her premises, her earnest and thoughtful attempts to enlighten her audience were impressive. I admire her fervor and her willingness to express her perspective. She is a natural leader – which is most likely why she has, though never eliciting the backing of major record labels or traditional distribution, a loyal – hell, rabid – fan base. It is evident that she understands the potency she has a role model, and is taking full advantage of that position, with the best of intentions. It would be great if more performers were aware of this fact, and conducted themselves accordingly.
Ani Difranco is one of my favorite performers in the world. She is passionate, expressive, joyful, intense, uncompromising, talented, beautiful, and rare. She is a true example of all I hope to become someday.
(video is of a song she played last night, though the video itself is from a couple of weeks ago at a show in California)