Ani DiFranco Live At Carnegie Hall ‘s Concert Review

Aquarian Weekly 5/2/01

SWEETNESS & EXALTATIONAni DiFranco Carnegie Hall 4/6/01

New York, New York

Ani DiFranco’s one-woman; nitroglycerine-meets-match acoustic performance at Carnegie Hall on a foggy Friday night in mid-town Manhattan was nothing short of a pristine musical tour de force. Thrashing through an eclectic repertoire of be-bop bluegrass and funk-laden folk, sparing no emotion along the way, DiFranco regaled the adoring packed house with tales of political woe and soul-searching poetry, capturing that rare marriage between artist and venue that is best defined by the inexplicable measurement of fate.

Draped in a black ensemble she described as “thrown together”, and hardly intimidated by the 110 year-old grand musical palace, DiFranco embraced the spacious loom of the stage as if she were a haunting echo from its glorious past. Yet the entire evening never strayed from the intimacy of a smoky roadside bar with a folkie in the corner crooning road-weary ballads.

With a Woody Guthrie pout and a Keith Richards strut, DiFranco relentlessly pounded and beautifully caressed a host of guitars while weaving and contorting her tiny body, but it was in those moments of jarring silence that she exalted the performance to levels of brilliant expression.

Each song from DiFranco’s vast catalogue of self-published work seemed to drift and dance along the gorgeous architecture as she glided in and out of the deep blue and soft red of the stage lights like a wandering minstrel vagabond, chirping and braying and screaming and singing with soft, childlike sweetness.

Featured throughout the hour and a half show were new numbers from her Reckoning/Reveling two-cd set to be released four days hence, including the wistful ode to jealousy, “Reveling”, the soul-searching “Subdivisions” and the tearfully melodic, “Garden of Simple”.

The new material segued seamlessly into the more well-known classics that DiFranco introduced time and again in a whisper as “one from way back then.” There was a palpable kinship between each song, spanning layers of her artistic maturation, as if they were innocent children from various cultures walking hand-in-hand with one purpose, to cajole and provoke, but never stand still.

Particularly moving were rousing versions of “Out of Range”, “Shameless”, “Tis’ of Thee” and the longing lilt of “Both Hands”, which completed several charged encores, as DiFranco edged to the lip of the stage to thank the hysterical crowd with one final, emphatic chord.

A high wire musical act worthy of awe, Ani DiFranco never fails to deliver the goods without a hint of pretension and pop posturing so prevalent in many of today’s artists, and at merely thirty years of age, she remains the salvation of pure musical performance. And on this night, there could have been no better example.

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