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Ani DiFranco - Concert @ Redbird Arena - Normal, IL - 05.01.99

I Am 32 Flavors and Then Some
by: kriste matrisch

I arrived at the Redbird Arena promptly at 7:30 because I wanted to make sure I found my seat. Of course, at first, I didn't. My seat was assigned under section L, not J. So, I move over to L. I was pleased with where I was; it wasn't the best, but at least I didn't have a view of the speakers like I thought I was going to.

At 8:05, the opening act, whose name, regrettfully I couldn't catch, came out. It was a drummer, a guitarist, and someone who played horns. They were very lively; however, I don't think that the audience appreciated their sweet jams as much as I. They played about five songs; each song lasting from 7-10 minutes. During one song, a couple of ladies, whose names also slipped from me, came to the stage and read one of Suzanne Sommers' poems about being a woman. This was when the audience took notice of the band and thought they were cool.

When the lights dimmed again around 9:00 for Ani, most of the people there moved out of their assigned seats, myself included, to get a better view of the stage and Ani's entrance. She wore a black tank top with overalls. I imagine that this outfit is the most comfortable given the fact that the limelight is on her. The first song that she and the band performed was "Virtue" from her recent album Up Up Up Up Up Up. I hadn't originally liked this song too much from the album, but hearing it live was just awesome! Ani rocks her four different guitars and rocks herself, swaying with the music. It is so cool when the whole audience is standing up and dancing along with every song.

What I found amazing about Ani is her ability to slightly change her old and familiar songs so that they seem new. She did this with "32 Flavors," "The Diner," and "Not So Soft." Another awesome thing about Ani is her ability to work in another song while she is performing the original. The first example is with the first song; while she doesn't play "Virtue" in its entirety, she brings in the ending of "Know Now Then" to end both songs. Very cool! The other example was during one of the last songs, "Cradle and All." Inside "Cradle and All," she brings in "Pulse," a song where she shows off her ability to be very sensual with her singing. Inside of "Pulse" and "Cradle and All" is when she introduces the band: Darren Hahn on drums, Jason Mercer on bass, and Julie Wolff on keyboards. As an added bonus, during "Angry Anymore," Julie plays the accordion right next to Ani, sharing the same mic and all. It was awesome, but Ani states with a laugh, "All this yee-hawing stuff isn't as easy as it looks!"

Ani also spoke out politically to the crowd, addressing this upcoming law where if you're caught with drugs, then you're withheld financial help from the government for an education. She put it in a way that I can't quote, but it definitely roused emotions in everyone standing. Basically she said that it's not the drug use that's the problem, but the overuse and that we need to find out WHY there is that overuse. This was her introduction to her song "Tis of Thee." It was very moving.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the performance. In fact, the highlight of the performance was the final encore, "Both Hands." It was just Ani and her acoustic. Of course, the audience singing along too. It was quite amazing; if anything, this was the song that made me realize that Ani fans are truly connected.

Playlist

Virtue / Know Now Then
Jukebox
Fuel
As Is
Shy
As Is
You Had Time
Fire Door
Not So Soft
The Diner
32 Flavors
Out of Range
Anticipate
Tis of Thee
Angry Anymore
Cradle and All / Pulse

First Encore
Little Plastic Castle
Second Encore
Both Hands

 

 

Artist Ani DiFranco
Venue Redbird Arena - Normal, IL
Date 05.01.99
Rating 4.5 out of 5.0
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