Difranco's Salt Lake City appearance showcased a return to her
original solo roots and featured rarely performed fan favorites.
ith biceps flexing, Ani Difranco dominated
the stage while setting an intimate mood Saturday night with her
The last time I saw Difranco in Utah, she played at the “E”
Center. She shunned the audience and ended the show early. As an
avid fan, I was so devastated that it took me six months to spin
one of her discs again.
But all was healed after her performance at the U’s Huntsman
Center. Difranco made the audience feel loved by talking and joking
with us, and then actually said that she loved each and every one
of us near the end.
Due to a delay in the show, she played songs she said she doesn’t
usually play, which only added to the intimate atmosphere.
She started the evening on a jovial note, commenting on how she
was a bit winded after her opening song.
“What is this? Are we just high up here or am I just getting
old? Don’t answer,” she said.
Difranco apologized for the late start, explaining that the truck
with all of the setup equipment had broken down outside of Denver.
The truck usually arrives at about 8 a.m., but it didn’t arrive
until 5 p.m. that night.
Because of the wait, she decided to play some rarely performed fan
Difranco has gotten back to what made her one of the most beloved
and worshipped female solo artists in her prolific career. She has
produced 20 albums since 1990’s Not So Soft, recorded when
she was 19. By that time, she had written more than 100 songs.
One of the many reasons her cult following loves her is that she
has always stayed independent, no matter how scarce the money got,
and eventually created her own label, Righteous Babe, which now
supports independent artists.
Many fans accused her of becoming too “poppy” and not
angry enough with some of her albums that came out in the mid-1990s,
but now her “I’m-a-young- woman-having-to-fight-in-a-
man’s-world” anger has changed to political anger. The
shift has moved her music from raucous guitar work to deeply moving,
passionate lyrics with softer guitar.
The other setback to the fans of the bisexual singer was her marriage
to a man. Many of her lesbian followers labeled her a traitor and
But she’s now back to the more comfortable setting that made
fans fall in love with the indie-folk rocker in the first place.
That she was playing seldom-performed material became apparent only
when she had to re-tune a guitar mid-song. Not having a band never
hindered her performance.
“Here’s a song a girl should never play without her
band,” she said, laughing, before ripping into “Little
Plastic Castle.” Regardless of the disclaimer, the audience
screamed with joy at hearing the song live.
Difranco interacted and talked to the audience after nearly every
She chatted about her day’s wanderings, inevitably ending
up at the Salt Lake City LDS Temple.
“I went to see that Tabernacle of yours—well maybe not
yours, but I got the whole tour. A woman walked up to me and told
me she was on a mission, and I told her, ‘So am I,’”
While the atmosphere was intimate, the reverb of the Huntsman Center
became annoying for both the audience and Difranco.
“When I was in that Tabernacle, they showed me what they called
the ‘perfect acoustics’ of the place. They pulled out
their spike and cookie plate and it was like clang, clang, clang,
clang,” she told the audience, laughing. “Literal people
just scare me. They were like, look, it’s the church of Jesus
Christ, it says so right here.”
The jovial mood continued as she ended “Anticipate”
by singing the line, “It’s not easy bein’ green.”
“Kermit the Frog is one of my biggest musical influences,”
The tone became a bit more serious when she introduced “Subdivision.”
She talked about the detriments of the creations of the suburbs,
and how it has destroyed her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y.
She ended the set with “Serpentine” from her new album
“I’m going to leave with a bit of a dirge because I’m
ruthless like that, “ she said.
During her encore, she gave a shout-out to Democratic presidential
candidate Dennis Kucinich, who attended one of her performances
“The fact that he even showed up was cool,” she said.
“I run into politicians at benefits and such, and they’re
just always stumbling around. He’s the only politician I’ve
met that doesn’t make my skin crawl.”