Ani DiFranco played a solo concert last night in the exclusive National Concert Hall in Dublin. It was intimate, soulful, delicate as well as a real celebration for the room full of Ani fans.
Jim Moray has been given the honour of supporting Ani on her Irish and UK solo tour. Jim is an award winning English folk artist whose three albums include original songs as well as his re-working of old folk ballads. Last night he played songs composed in the early years of the 20th Century. Jim has a quality singing voice that hints of the old folk style. His guitar playing and intricate finger picking sounded immense in the vastness of The National Concert Hall. The best track which also included the best introduction ‘Long Lankin’. Jim mentioned that as being a child of folkies he often got tales of murder and infanticide for bedtime stories. ‘Long Lankin’ is the tale of a child murderer who can walk through walls!
This version of ‘Long Lankin’ was recorded exactly a year ago last night.
When Ani arrived on stage I kind of felt like I was at a birthday party of a distant friend. There was excitement and joy in the room from the moment Ani sang the first note to the extent you could almost touch the love. The fans were singing and swaying and even by the end of the gig people were dancing in the aisles and on the balcony! As I know about 40% of Ani’s back catalogue I did not quite feel that same love as the majority of the crowd and hence had that objective feeling of watching the event rather than being apart of it.
Many of the tracks played were from the most recent album ‘Red Letter Year’ from 2009 and from the upcoming new album being released in April of this year. Ani made reference to the fact that her songs have mellowed in context with songs about love, contentment and happiness. The songs are still delivered with that same conviction which exists in all her best and popular tracks. I particularly loved the very personal track ‘Angry Anymore’ which appeared on Ani’s 1999 album ‘Up UP Up Up Up’.
Other tracks which stood out last night were ‘Fuel’ and the encore of ‘Gravel’, ‘Both Hands’ and ‘Untouchable Face’. As she said these well known tracks were a reward for listening attentively through the new shit! Before the encore her final song was the impressive re-working of a union song which Pete Seegar recorded in 1967 called ‘Which Side Are You On?’.
It is always nice to see an established artist like Ani DiFranco being humbled by the reaction of the typical Irish crowd. This was a crowd of Ani DiFranco devotees and they loved every moment of the concert. It was a wonderful experience to see two outstanding songwriters and performers in such amazing environs of the National Concert Hall. I’m now a fan of Jim Moray and Ani DiFranco has confirmed her status as one of the world’s best live performers.