Ani DiFranco, Infinity Music Hall, Norfolk, CT- 11/11
You would be hard–pressed to find a more striking theater than the restored Infinity, a 300-seater that is close to absolutely nothing, but a perfect setting for the original Righteous Babe. Over twenty years on from her beginnings in Buffalo, Difranco has as many albums to draw on for her live shows. Still playing songs like “Untouchable Face” or “As Is”, it’s abundantly clear that she won’t be mellowing.
On “J”, from 2012’s Which Side Are You On, “basically a rant” about the Gulf oil spill. The New Orleans-transplant spoke truth to power:
Oh, blood ignited in a blighted sky
Oh, blood on the water, like we all could die
Blood in the reeds, glistening in the sun
Blood on our hands, each and every one
Her clear voice and pleasant strumming doesn’t mask the sharp edge present in tunes like “If Yr Not” – “If you’re not getting happier as you get older, then you’re fuckin’ up” –who can argue with that?
The clear-eyed insouciance that songs like “Splinter” and “Promiscuity” require remained in abundance and new songs “Genie” and “Allergic” demonstrated her lyrical gifts are undimmed, buoyant or biting as required. Behind her were bassist Todd Sickafoose and Terence Higgins on drums, they play with as much versatility as their boss. There were welcome breaks between numbers that made clear that if Difranco ever wanted to take a hiatus from her music she could take on standup comedy. “What would the older, wiser Ani say to the younger Ani? Lighten up!”
Difranco is famous for variety in her set lists; at the close, she quieted down for “Fire Door” from the first album’s shaved head days and “Overlap” from 1994’s Out Of Range.
Singer songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov opened with a slew of understated, yet powerful songs; he deserves to be better known.