Righteous spirit

Ani DiFranco

Laxson Auditorium, Mon., April 5
Songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and Righteous Babe (the apt name of her own record label) Ani DiFranco rocked an enraptured crowd Monday night in Laxson Auditorium. Despite being virtually unheard on mainstream radio, the “little folksinger” has gathered a worldwide following of passionate fans over the past 13 years via live shows, tours and 20-plus albums.

The diminutive DiFranco dominated the stage, joined by kick-ass bassist Todd Sickafoose, whose percussive, experimental, even otherworldly bass lines perfectly complemented DiFranco’s funky finger picking, open chords, and introspective reinvention of minor keys. Topped off by her distinctive vocal stylings, eloquent, vibrant lyrics and absolutely riveting charisma, this was a ravishing show.

The performance of the title track from DiFranco’s latest, Educated Guess, was a reworking of the spiraling cacophony and soaring vocals of the album version, warmed and buoyed by Sickafoose’s bass. There were also classic DiFranco tunes such as “Anticipate,” with its rhythmic bass line and biting lyrics: “We don’t say everything that we could/ so that we can say later/ oh, you misunderstood.”

Between songs, DiFranco poked fun at our "robot" governor and praised the dedication of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. She also dedicated a song to "beautiful Bidwell Park," where she spent the day watching the "flirting of butterflies in love." Her enthusiasm is contagious: The standing ovation and shining faces, slick from dancing to her exuberant encore, summed it all up perfectly.