A Venti coffee, a new Nissan, and a 106 miles drive to the Orpheum Theatre for Ani Difranco. Ani is one of those artists that I knew existed and her name comes up in conversations but I hadn’t actually heard her music. I actually didn’t know much about her.
I stepped foot in the Orpheum Theatre which is very reminiscent of the Wiltern. I had seating in the center of the floor towards the middle. The opening act was playing as I walked in. I heard it and wanted to walk out. Not exactly my cup of tea.
Ani powered through 20 songs for an hour and a half of delightment. I walked in not knowing anything about her or her music. It was a great surprise to hear the staccato style on the guitar with a skat-like voice. It was funny because I had no idea which songs would be her “hits” but it was obvious when the crowd roared and got out of their seats.
The show itself was quiet compared to other shows I’ve seen. It was Ani, her drummer (a woman) and up-right bass player. When I say quiet I mean you don’t leave the auditorium with a pounding headache.
Most songs were upbeat speaking of feminist themes, religion, motherhood, and empowerment. The real treat of the night was for the encore she read us a poem. A poem of American and Freedom. She is not only an accomplished singer but great storyteller.
Ani also stole the show nearing the end of the set with 2 solo songs that were filled with just as much energy as with the full band. Of course, she did have the entire crowd on their feet singing away with her. You could feel the crowd and Ani exchanging the energy.
I’d say stick her in a coffee shop but her energy would brew coffee stronger than Starbucks and her voice would break even the thickest of walls. The power, energy, and the humor made for one really great experience without even knowing any of her work. A true entertainer.
In a music industry that has yet to redefine success, Ms. Difranco can easily be that definition with a cult following of loyal fans that pack the house and sing word for word with the Woman on stage, and can walk away with feeling valued.
Oh, by the way, This Righteous Babe has 19+ albums out on her own label and is also recording a new one. Just thought I would through that one in there.
Photos of Ani DiFranco: