Compiled by Simon Montgomery, © 2001

1983.03.16  Palais Theatre  Melbourne, Australia

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» Joni's musical magic was worth the wait (Melbourne Herald, 1983)

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quibbulis on 2010-Mar-29 at 06:11:31 GMT-5:
It was the last weeks of summer 1983 when I saw Joni Mitchell at the old Palais in St Kilda. Joni Mitchell is both a curse and blessing in my life since I first heard her on "Both Sides Now" when I was about 13. Very few in art come close to her so my record, book, film and painting collection's pretty limited; but she's also given me a clearer understanding of what a true artist is and what a woman can be. Thirty five years later I still get new understandings of her lyrics and damned if I've ever been able to explain why I love that woman's music. That's the mysterious signature of an artist. When she exhibited paintings at the Mendel in Canada a few years ago I got the LAST book and poster. Probably helped that I told them to ask me any lyric of any song of hers and I'd sing it there and then over the phone.
The audience was reverent but there was a buzz of excitement. This was a concert, not a show. Was there someone on before her? Can't remember. Joni was wearing a black tuxedo with satin lapels and lit up a smoke for "Raised on Robbery". She wasn't as tall as I thought she was and she looked like she didn't particularly want to be there if you want the truth. After the MC's introduction Joni Mitchell and the band came on. She launched in and kept on going, not a word to the audience. A couple of songs in a fellow in the audience yelled "Hello Joni!" at one of those moments between applause and music when complete silence falls; we were all thinking it, being Australians and gave her (and him) a hearty round of applause. She seemed to rouse from some kind of spell and laughed nervously and stumbled out a few words like a shy teenager and then tore on through the concert, freezing Larry Klein out everytime he came near her.
The music was great - not too different from the recordings. The last song of the night was "Both Sides Now". Joni sang it with only acoustic guitar, eyes closed, left of stage and that one song redeemed the distracting restraint of the night. It wasn't the song it was her way with it that finally connected. She left me puzzled, fascinated, uneasy and diving, diving, diving down to pick up on every shiny thing.