Ani DiFranco’s Sunday, Nov. 11, performance at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium was packed, poetic, political and infused with her unforgettable showmanship. From feminist empowerment and political change to the most basic of human emotions, DiFranco’s lyrical repertoire is extensive. She explores the nature of the human condition with a sound that’s wholly her own. It’s hard not to have high hopes for a local performance by such an influential artist, but thankfully DiFranco’s performance didn’t disappoint.
Singing as a woman, a new (and obviously proud) mother and as an activist, DiFranco’s charisma and strength was inspiring and at times contagious. Unafraid of expressing her personal beliefs and political motivations, DiFranco placed two issues at the center of her national tour: increasing green, sustainable energy sources and the eradication of nuclear weaponry. Her performance was made especially political when 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich took to the stage. Giving DiFranco a kiss on the cheek, the Congressman joined in with the performance, playing a shaker (all while wearing a pressed suit). Kucinich was also one of DiFranco’s opening acts, following spoken-word artist Buddy Wakefield. Kucinich spoke on the political perspectives he shares with DiFranco, and his presence at the concert made it clear that politics — always a major element of her music — are also deeply woven into her current tour.
DiFranco began the concert by “getting right to the folk” — a statement that left the auditorium flooded with applause — and launching into a set composed of both older material and newer creations (including songs written for her baby). The last song of her encore was played for “all the singers” in the crowd, and in the final moments of the performance the audience jumped in and sang along.
As I left the concert, I found myself replaying a line over-and-over-again in my mind: “I am invincible, and so are you.” This was a line from a poem that DiFranco shared in the middle of her concert. For me, the line expresses her captivating confidence and belief that an individual can make a difference. Her show as a whole confirms that there is nothing too big, too small or too risky for DiFranco’ to take hold of.
— Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt, listings assistant; photo provided by Valerie Erde