Janis Ian with special guest Diana Jones
at World Café Live at The Queen, Wilmington, DE

24 April 2013

This was our second visit to WCF–the first was earlier this month to see my guitar teacher Chuck Kuzminski play as of The Company, performing Pink Floyd’s The Wall a few weeks ago.

Instead of just a few scattered tables, for this performance everyone was seated. We were at a table for six, with a couple from right in Wilmington, and a couple who’d driven all the way in from Philly for the performance. Nearly every seat was taken, and everyone was respectful and seemed to be having an awesome time.

We’d come early, having discovered at our previous outing just how good the food was–there was also an email early in the day letting us know that food/drink service would be suspended during the performance, at the performer’s request. We were reminded of this on arrival, that it was “at the request of Miss Janis Ian.”

Dinner was shared crab dip, duck and creme brulee for me, and a burger for Mike. Mike also indulged in a specialty coffee, while I sipped a Glenlivet during the show.

The opening act was Diana Jones, a singer/guitarist, with a pleasant, hypnotic finger-picking guitar style that provides a nice background for her songs. She sings mostly sad songs, lots drawn from historical events, with good stories behind them and in the lyrics.

Diana played both a standard steel-stringed guitar, and a tenor guitar. She introduced Janis Ian with very little fanfare, saying she’d been asked to sing harmony on a song that she’d been singing since she was thirteen (“Through the Years”). Diana stayed for Janis’s first two songs, then quietly left the stage, returning during the second set for the last song.

Janis is positively mesmerizing. Her voice is strong and she plays with incredible authority. She exudes energy as she sings, throughout her entire performance–we saw Jackson Browne last year in Philly, and he seemed tired and run down by comparison. This is one powerful woman. I think she’s gotten better and better as the years have gone by–she is absolutely remarkably to listen to, both her singing and her guitar work.

Janis made a point of complementing World Café Live–where people get treated right and sound & lights are primo. She’d love a string of clubs across the country just like this where she could perfrom. As it’s a great place to take in a show–I applaud her support. She looked classy, comfortable, and elegant–not an easy combination, but she carried it off easily.

Between songs, she told great stories of how she came to write some of them, or just entertaining anecdotes–but she kept the audience engaged and hanging on every word. She told jokes: “An ex-president, a first lady, and three lesbians walk into a bar . . . ”

She did a short first set following on Diana Jones, then came back and did a full second set and an encore. At the end there were two well-deserved standing ovations.

We went home with a copy of her two CD retrospective The Essential Janis Ian.

set list:
Through the Years [with Diana Jones]
When the Party’s Over [with Diana Jones]
From Me to You
Society’s Child
My Autobiography
The Tiny Mouse
Bright Lights and Promises

~~ intermission~~

Tea and Sympathy
Light a Light
Married in London
At Seventeen
I’m Still Standing [with Diana Jones]
(note: I’m Still Standing is not yet available as a studio recording, find it on YouTube)

~~ standing ovation ~~

Jesse (with her voice unamplified)

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