At last, all us rabid fans, have our Ani DiFranco concert dvd. I was extremely excited about this release, as I'd seen clips from the RBR website, and delighted to find it as a Christmas concert. However, I popped it in my laptop and was inexplicably let-down. The dynamic camerawork from Render's song selections has been replaced with an odd "documentary" style film-making which gravitates between grainy images and stark clear images, often in the same song. The camera also veers wildly away from Ani, choosing instead to focus on details of the stage: her urn, her cellolist's big toe, a random person in the crowd ... you get the idea. Ani alone is compelling to me, and I want to be right up with her, so I can truly recreate my concert experience. However, this dvd does not do that, not for me. I felt strangely detached from the songs as I watched, because Ani is filmed from a side angle, an angle no audience member would ever actually see from. To try to understand my disappointment, I popped in Melissa Etheridge's Live and Alone dvd, and immediately spied the difference. Trust holds me back from the action, away from Ani, as though I were a voyeur, not a devoted fan. Live and Alone puts the audience member immediately in Melissa's passionate playing; you feel as though you're there.
From a performance standpoint, the concert couldn't be better. Precise, passionate, clear singing - but to quote Ani herself, an "almost too perfect" performance. She seems to be going through the motions here - she's singing her heart out, but not with the wonderful energy I'm accustomed to in a live performance.
I even miss the Ani chatter, a staple of any real DiFranco show. Personally, I would have preferred if she'd picked one single performance, not culled it from two nights. Some of the song changes are abrupt and off-putting.
In brief, it's lovely to have genunine Ani concert dvd and I enjoy the song selection, but this feels like a trial exercise, a warm-up to actually capturing the true Ani live experience on film.