Ani DiFranco | 10.01.2008

anicrop.jpg  The girl’s still got it just as much as ever.








 The Pageant, St. Louis

Ani DiFranco – what can I say? The girl’s still got it just as much as ever. DiFranco has been kickboxing her way through a US tour in name of her latest album, Red Letter Year. St. Louis was fortunate enough to have her grace The Pageant last Wednesday with what would prove to be an unforgettable show. Pieta Brown performed the opening act, alongside her guitarist and long-time friend Bo Ramsey. It is no wonder DiFranco chose Brown to start off the show. I was just saying today how rare it is that I find a style of country that I like. For some reason, it just seems to be on few occasions that I find a “country” artist that I can identify with. One of those rare findings occurred that night, although it may be debatable whether the musings of Pieta Brown are solely contained within that genre. Brown is a girl who has developed an intriguing comfort in her own skin. She graced the stage with a rigid, yet fluid poise. Her music was calm, yet it had a focus to it that reflected an underlying soul of angst. Her wavering voice reminded me of songstress Lucinda Williams, so it was really cool to find out that Brown’s guitarist, Bo Ramsey, was an active collaborator with Williams herself. Ramsey has definitely made his mark in the music industry; along with Williams and Brown, he’s played with Joan Baez, and is actively performing as a solo musician.

And then there was DiFranco. She has definitely entered a new era. In spite of our current elements of turmoil, or more likely because of it, this activist has turned away from her notorious drive of conflict, and has instead moved towards one that preaches finding your own happiness within chaos. And she’s reached a new level of spitfire (girl’s toutin’ some major guns). And well into the raising of her new baby, she provided a new wealth of wisdom (which was set to awesome music in Red Letter Year), that enforces her priority into making the best of what’s here, rather than worrying about what isn’t. Opening with her classic “Shy,” DiFranco commanded the audience right out of the gate. Other standards included “Gravel” and “Evolve,” each one highlighting DiFranco’s stunning guitar chops.

The show wouldn’t have been complete without a smidge of political activism. DiFranco always has a way with speaking her mind, making each member of the audience feel like they’re having a personal conversation with a friend over a beer. It is that very element of connection that is so special about an Ani DiFranco concert – one of the coolest things to witness is the audience, singing along to every word of every song, and shouting various words of (at many times humorous) encouragement towards the stage.

Like I said, the girl’s still got it. | Sheila Shahpari

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