i’m holding here a book
notable, but not the greatest
stolen for me by the latest
in a long line of thieves
and i’m just about to drop it
down that manhole of memories
when i realize it doesn’t bother me
and heartache not so dire
cuz i looked up to see integrity
finally won over desire
– Ani DiFranco, “Manhole”

I had to laugh. “Napoleon” and “Manhole” in the same set. Ani, do I really inadvertently conform that much, or do you just read my mind (or scribbled journal pages from long ago)?

Ani was soft. Very soft. From my spot a blissfully few rows back, I noted the transformation that had taken place since the last time I’d seen her at that venue. She had rounded edges, a simple hairstyle that resembled that of any other mid-30s woman waiting those last months before a baby in the belly was ready to debut to the world. I knew that, had I passed her on the street during my travels Sunday or Monday, I probably would not have recognized her.

She was normal. A brilliantly talented, musically masterful, but altogether normal pregnant woman. One whose setlist was peppered with more mellow tunes than to which one might be accustomed, but one who (for the most part) delivered those songs with grace and nuance.

This pregnant woman was responsible for creating the concert social scene of the season thus far. Everyone was there, prompting many greetings, smiles or waves during intermission and post-show. I received a phone call from a friend during the last moments of a pre-show (pre-game) dinner at American Flatbread, in which I was asked if I was at Ani.

“I will be soon.”

“Find me.” And I did.

Ani is on a small list of performers for which shows become events. Celebrations, really, warranting a chance to laugh uproariously during a dinner meal with old friends, newer friends and another I hope soon joins the circle. A celebration that results in a toast to good conversation, good times and the artist who prompted such a dynamic.

When a concert leads to celebration, the music itself almost comes to serve as icing.