Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
A social- political folk troubadour in the style of Woody Guthrie, Ani DiFranco brought out a commited group of followers to her concert on February 27. Beginning her set with “Done Wrong,” DiFranco leaned heavily on the jazz stylings of bassist Todd Sickafoose. “78% H20” followed with Sickafoose laying a slippery rhythmic groundwork that DiFranco expounded upon with her subtle lyrical sway. “Fuel” included references to president Barrack Obama, freedom of speech and choice. DiFranco has a poet’s blood running through her veins, as evidenced on both “Dilate” and “Modulation.” And, she related the verse of “My IQ” to the packed denizens on the Madison’s floor, as they expressed their approval back towards the stage. Sickafoose controlled the groundwork of “Splinter” and “Swandive,” and DiFranco’s smile stretched as the connection with her Kentucky fanbase grew with each tune. “Smiling Underneath” was one of many highlights of the evening, and DiFranco’s sharp, staccato strumming style dominated the audience favorite, “Gravel.” Many of DiFranco’s songs deal with the intrinsic details of inner romantic relationships, and “Present/Infant” along with “If You’re Not” added both depth and lightheartedness to difficult subject matters. With “Untouchable Face,” it was apparent that DiFranco was winding the performance down. She chose to end the set with the number she played at Pete Seeger’s birthday, “Which Side Are You On.” Coming back to encore briefly with the title track from her album, “Evolve,” Ani DiFranco then brought out support act Erin McKeown to help her with the concert’s last number, a riveting, yet laidback ode to point of view on the beguiling “Everest.” It was yet another triumphant Cincinnati area appearance by Ani Difranco and company that will be talked about and remembered for some time.