November 9, 2011
Review by Fiona Breslin
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – While I am new to Ani DiFranco’s music, I knew well enough not to skimp out on a concert one of leading female singer-songwriters of the last two decades. Not to mention what makes a show in the Berkshires particularly exciting is that it is one of the only places in the world where you can buy tickets to such an event the day of and see one of your favorite artists on an otherwise quiet, boring or lonely weekday night, at a beautiful old theater such as the Colonial in downtown Pittsfield.
Though I didn’t know any of the words to any of last night’s songs, at some point I did just as I was warned I would and closed my eyes and just let myself relax to DiFranco’s slumberous yet up-and-down tempo, voice and rhythmic acoustic guitar, which combined with the fabulous acoustics at the Colonial sounded more like an orchestra than a one-woman band when she windmilled her guitar with a smile, alone on the big, bright stage.
A native to Buffalo, N.Y., now based in New Orleans, DiFranco is serious — known for her songs about politics, gender, and labor — but she is also somewhat giddy and lighthearted in person. Now a mother and wife, and twenty years older than when her debut self-titled album came out in 1990, she has a girlish and endearing charm. Last night’s songs covered topics such as her baby-daddy/producer husband, general life coping, relationships, getting older, and motherhood. “What else am I gonna talk about?,” she said, referring to her five-year old daughter Petah, whom DiFranco — a self identified bisexual — said she tried to raise gay. Instead, she said, Petah likes princesses.
I can’t say for sure what songs DiFranco, dressed in an army-green tank top — did and didn’t play, even though audience members such as the 12-year-old girl next to me shouted out, “Play ‘Manhole,’” from DiFranco’s 2005 album, Knuckle Down. But one-line lyrical musings such as “You lie in my face of all places,” and “If you’re not getting happier as you get old, then you’re fucking up,” certainly left me with some thoughts to chew on.
Fiona Breslin is a special correspondent for The Rogovoy Report.