Her popularity soared in the late '90s, yet somehow escaped me until a number of years later and then I found out about her being diagnosed with breast cancer and, as with all her fans, was scared. Respectfully selfish, I subconsciously accepted the fact that I may not ever get to see her in concert.
Imagine my elation when I happened to check the website for Saint John's Imperial Theatre's upcoming events and saw that Bif was scheduled to come here! Without any hesitation I bought tickets - third row centre (because Holly doesn't like the front row!) - and anxiously awaited concert day.
Bif Naked Supporting Saint John Animal Rescue
Her often brutally honest lyrics give insight to her personality and beliefs, but given that this show was to be acoustic, I did not know what to expect from the concert. I didn't care. What I did know was that someone overflowing with talent could not give a bad performance. Her songs are normally hard and even angry sounding, which sets you up for the surprise of your life when you see her in person and discover there really is nothing hard or angry present. Everything about her shines. Bif's vulnerability is unsettling because you just don't expect it.
The stage consisted of two stools; one for Bif and one for Jacen Ekstrom, each with their chosen instruments - her voice and his guitar - and a small table beside Jacen. Their chemistry is easy and fluid and a fine match. That aforementioned vulnerability works with this onstage relationship to deliver Jacen as a sort of broken-family son to Bif - her protector even if she is calling the shots. And it works.
I was awed by the quality and strength of her voice. Knowing the acoustic aspect would highlight any weaknesses and having only really heard her behind the usually heavy, loud music on her albums, my preconceptions had me mistakenly believing this style would take something away from a 'normal' concert, but this was definitely not the case. The focal point became her vocalizations and spotlighted the intended intimacy, allowing the concert goer to appreciate that this performer was showing us her therapy - ridding herself of her demons and, in the process, empowering herself right before our eyes - and instructing us to do the same.