Ani Difranco @ The Glee Club, 24th January 2011


Firstly, hats off to Jim Moray! Despite the Glee Club announcer asking for audience quiet while performers are on stage, at least half of the crowd talk loudly through his whole set. Still, whether he is unaware or just thick-skinned, Jim still belts out some traditional folk songs that even had me stroking my beard and swinging my pants in appreciation.


He manages with some skill to make the twee sound contemporary and his delivery is bang up to date. Admittedly Jim’s own songs do not have as much depth as the traditional ones, and yes, at times the traditional folk songs are repetitive with never-ending verses. However, the rhythmic structures and dynamics more than make up for this. It is just a shame that much of the quieter sections of the songs are drowned out by crowd noise: Glee Club audiences are normally much more respectful.


From the moment Ani Difranco begins playing, the packed Glee Club’s collective attention is focused on her and thankfully they shut up. Not often have I seen a solo performer capture an audience so quickly and seemingly with no effort and so little volume. Ani appears relaxed and convivial, chatting between and during songs with a confidence born of a career of near faultless integrity.

She is bursting with a nervous energy, hardly stopping to take breath and this is utterly charming. Ani plays her guitar as if it is part of her physically. She uses it like a worker uses their tool; sometimes with great care and tenderness, at other times whacking the hell out of it. The amount of different sounds and overtones she can bring out of a piece of wood is truly astonishing.


On occasion Ani’s facial expressions and body language look like Prince or Peter Frampton: there is always a big grin in place and a look in her eye that suggests she is thinking “Uh huh, ain’t that the truth!” I can feel she is constantly having an internal dialogue: the one she is singing and the one listening and commenting on every line. Occasionally she will break the second conversation’s silence mid-song and say something like “F*ckin A”. Sometimes this alternate conversation will take over completely and she will lose her place in the song she is singing. “Now where the hell was I?” Far from being unprofessional or irritating, it is totally endearing; I didn’t feel like a member of a 600 strong audience, but someone sitting in Ani’s lounge while she sings for her own pleasure. Happily, the crowd at the Glee Club feel the same and are hanging on her every word.

Ani’s set consists of older songs and a number of new tracks as yet unreleased. The newer tracks seem rawer and more blatantly political, showing Ani’s disgust of the world’s continuing inequality and the growing stranglehold on our lives by multi-national corporations. She is unforgiving though, explaining that: “If I don’t write this shit, who else will?” And she is right, real protest singers are few and far between these days.


It is easy to fall in love with the stage persona of Ani Difranco. She is completely engaging, generous to a fault and she lets you into her world without reserve. The display of honesty is knee-shaking. However, you have to remind yourself that this is an artist at work, and as Ani sings: “They don’t love me, they love what I do.” This is so true, but there are times when the lines of reality and fantasy are blurred. I guess this is the price paid by any artist who writes solely about themselves, they invite the audience into their lives. I have to admit that after an hour of watching Ani bearing her soul, my heart and emotions can take little more: it is exhausting stuff but worth every ounce of effort.

Review – Alan Neilson
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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2 thoughts on “Ani Difranco @ The Glee Club, 24th January 2011

  1. To begin with hats off for the heads up on highlighting a growing and major problem at The Glee,namely the huge amount of talking while artists are performing,if the music gets louder these assholes just talk louder,if people want to constantly talk they should be invited to leave,firmly but politely off course.
    Jim Moray did an admirable job in delivery his excellent brand and take on traditional music.

    I have seen Ani 3 times now and thankfully she is not getting any less angrier.The guitar style was slightly less violently percussive than i remember,perhaps just a quieter set of songs.
    Always engaging,thought provoking and musically wonderful,the lyrics and guitar work are always spellbinding and we even had a song in standard tuning,a rarity within itself,almost as rare as Ani’s talent.
    A great night.

  2. I agree with Martin. I’ve pointed the same out in reviews at The GC. The management do make explicit requests for quiet. Punters are too polite and sober to take the gobby ones on. The GC has a special atmosphere which is why you see a wide mix of ages and tastes.

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