Backliner in the shadows | Revista independiente de música

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Backliner in the shadows

Once, when I was young, I realized I was in love with three women at the same time: Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Ani Difranco. Over time and with experience, you forget about the loves of your youth and accept reality… but when someone tells you that one of your first loves is coming back to town, you cannot resist the temptation to see how she is doing, if time has treated her well, if she is happy… and with a mixture of nostalgia, melancholy, curiosity and uneasiness in your heart, you head towards where you used to meet her.

More than five years it has been since Ani Difranco last strolled, as she had accustomed us, about the stages of the state. And I missed it from the moment I was told she had planned a visit. Carefree, cheerful, vital and energetic as always and much more mature than we were familiar with, the show started with the ensemble we recognized as well in her first performance in Catalonian lands at the second Doctor Music Festival many years ago: double bass, drums (an incredible man with the shoulders of a transatlantic who under a cap Harlem style, played the drumsticks as if he was doing nothing…), and acoustic guitar. Well, rather, acoustic guitars. Up to 10 acoustic guitars behind the stage, all lined up and arranged according to the *setlist order, a list I could copy thanks to the kindness of the immense sound technician. One of the best I have seen in quite a while. Since minute one, he made Ani’s guitar sound like there were three of them at once, bounce, and use the delays and compressors in real time with every compass of every song. A spectacle which only four of us, privileged, positioned behind the P.A. table, could observe.

With a lesson well learned, Ani Difranco ended up getting the audience that filled up the Apolo in her pocket, although she had won them over from the beginning. With comments like “the venues in Madrid are darker and catchier” than the ones in Barcelona, or “here, girls go around almost showing their breasts and everybody kisses and hugs each other in the street, as if they were at home, and this is fantastic”, it was clear she wanted to recover her place at the first line of acoustic rock folk which she took advantage of in the 90s, thanks, especially, to the albums she decided to edit since her independence 20 years ago, creating her own label Righteous Babe. For the sake of mentioning some of the essentials: Not a pretty girl (1995), Living in clip (1997), Little Castle Plastic (1998), To the teeth (1999) or Revelling/Reckoning (2001), among fifteen others.

And among the many wonders (her voice, her skill playing and her charm) she displayed during the hour and a half she was onstage, one of the best surprises was discovering her new album, without pretty pictures, only with music, called Allergic to Water and recorded in two sessions, one of them when she was still 6 and a half months pregnant, and the other one more than a year and a half after having her second child. This is the first CD she has produced and mixed herself after years of working alongside her producer and husband Mike Napolitano.

I only missed one thing, when she introduced the band she didn’t include the backliner, who was behind the drum set as an essential part of the concert, ready all the time, attentive to the multiple guitar changes and tuning in the shadows. Without him, the show would not have had the proper rhythm or the proper tranquility for the artist.

* 1. Fuel, 2. Angry any mother, 3. Not a pretty girl, 4. Fire door, 5. Woe be gone, 6. Careless child, 7. Modulation, 8. Manhole, 9.Swan dive, 10. Genie, 11. harder than it needs to be, 12. See see see see, 13. Sun morn, 14. Happy all the time, 15. Untouchable, 16. Shameless. Bisos: 17. Gravel, 18. Joyful girl.

Translation by Irene Soto.