Ani DiFranco is one of the finest, most unique folk-rock voices, and a must-see live act. She brought her latest record, Binary, to life at the Keswick Theatre on Sunday. With a tight backing band and a wealth of material old and new, DiFranco played a solid 100-minute set.
1. She played protest music for our time
DiFranco declared midway through her set that she has “never felt less alone in (her) outrage.” She addressed reproductive rights on “Play God” and gentrification on “Subdivision,” giving them nuanced intros to increase their impact. And there was a telling logo stating “Rise Up” projected behind her for a number of songs. She definitely knows her audience.
2. She reminded us that she is a guitar wizard
To watch DiFranco play is to witness guitar artistry of the highest order. Her craft operates as an extension to her poetic visions, extending lyrics and beats into intricate guitar parts that she displays with a quickness and panache. Her body will angle backwards to bring even greater depth of sound out of the guitar appendage.
3. The older work won the night
Despite a set heavy with new tracks, the crowd was overwhelmingly excited by the old stuff. Letting out shrieks of joy and applause before their favorite tracks, the audience stood in the aisles and danced to “Untouchable Face” and the show closer “Joyful Girl.” With the conclusion, DiFranco went to the front of the stage to give high fives and hugs.
4. Andrea Gibson gave an electric opening performance
Gibson—a stunning wordsmith—performed some brilliant, timely poetry before DiFranco’s set. She discussed race, politics and love with a unique, vibrant voice and joked that all of her poems could be renamed “Fuck Trump.”