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Wally's Tour Report
All I can say is wow! Another fabulous concert for Joni last night at the San Jose Arena. This one easily matched her stellar performance on the first night at the Gorge Ampitheater. It's a toss up on which was the best. There were rumours that Joni almost canceled her segment due to the bug she picked up at the Gorge last weekend. Joni referred to her sniffles during the performance, blaming it on the high pollen count. Thank goodness she didn't cancel because she was fantastic!
I was in a particularly good mood because many of my good friends were at this show, and it was great to finally be able to take them to a JM concert. They were beaming, with tears occasionally welling up in their eyes; I felt very proud to be there with them.
At the back of the stage, the four hanging panels, which had not been used at the Gorge due to the strong winds, had returned.
Wearing a long, clingy reddish brown skirt and matching short jacket (with occasional sequins) over it, Joni looked beautiful. The respiratory bug she's fighting only added to the expressiveness and depth of her voice, particularly on "Amelia," "The Magdalene Laundries" and "Woodstock."
Joni's setlist was:
Night Ride Home
The Crazy Cries of Love
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Just Like This Train
Hejira (tonight she again changed the line "Strains of Benny Goodman coming through the snowy trees..." to "I thought I heard ol' blue eyes crooning through the snowy trees...")
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni closed this one with a piece of a rap song-"Now why you wanna go and do that, uh huh huh, now why you wanna go and do that?")
The Magdalene Laundries
Moon at the Window
Seen backstage were Bruce Springsteen and his mom; actress Rosanna Arquette and her baby; and Joni's former guitar technician, Joel Bernstein.
Reports from the Internet Community
(From:Ian Stewart, email@example.com)- Classy, shy and worth the wait, Joni Mitchell entranced the crowd at the San Jose Arena last night, dipping into some old favorites, while still strongly showcasing her last two major albums.
Opening up with Night Ride Home, she led her four piece band, including former lover Larry Klein on bass, through a whirlwind of new and old classics alike. From the stirring Passion Play and The Magdalene Laundries, to the sing-a-long of Big Yellow Taxi, Joni seemed to enjoy playing to a large audience again. And in pure Joni-style, she stopped at the beginnings of a few songs to adjust some strings, to which the crowd cheered with each apology. Unlike Van Morrison, who didn't pause at all to address the audience, Joni took time to mention histories of some songs and even mention her hometown nicknamed the "Paris of the North, the city of bridges." And at one point, during Big Yellow Taxi she performed a quick imitation of Bob Dylan.
The band was tight, the music was awesome, but the time with Joni was too short.
(From:Paul Comey, paul.comey@Sun.COM)- Joni freaks of America - celebrate! she's back and awesome as ever....
san jose, ca concert review 5/19/98 as san jose arena (another ice palace). SOLD OUT first day. on the bill was van morrison, joni, dylan (playing in that order).
that girl - joni - still has the magic ... awesome stuff!!! but she is getting old like the rest of us - 1st 3 songs her voice was not in-gear. and there were at least 2 miss cues later where she had to stop and restart the song again. but at least she did not forget the words like frank sinatra did.
side review: dylan was cute - really did the rock'abily thing well. i still remember when he went "electric at newport" folk festival and they booed him off the stage - such a silly thing. van morrison was good too. mostly it was a dylan concert crowd. not your usual joni mitchell concert crowd (this was my 6th joni concert since 1973).
but joni did play a fairly long set - so i did not feel cheated. compared to dylan and van morrison she was more talkative and personal on the stage - but usual joni stage chat for the joni vets, though.
she even apologized for a harsh review she got from the BC, Vancouver concert. the BC reviewer wanted early joni folk but got mingus jazz. (stupid reviewer - she gave up on folk years ago - in fact the whole concert she played electric guitar - no acoustic with electric pickups).
the joni band was made up of ex-hubby larry klein on bass (the bass sound was poor - the wiring was super bad and either you could not hear the bass or it distorted the rest of the music - jaco pastorius would never have let that happen), drums brian blade and greg leisz on slide-guitar (NOT guitar). it created a real neat jazzy, Western Canadian Plains sound that is very representitive of joni's background.
heijia, amelia, big yellow taxi, and (signature song) woodstock were awesome and a DEAD-ON!!! vintage joni. sex kills was great - very disturbing to those unaware to current joni-isms. blackbird was poor due to the bass problem. nite-ride home was poor due to joni's voice not working yet. a new song, "happiness is the best facelift" was a fun. proving that more albums are possible if she can get the energy to get into a studio.
others played were: magnolana laundry, moon at the window, crazy crys of love, harry's house, court 'n spark. (not certain of exact titles but you should be able to figure that out with my hints).
I don't know if i can take another 10 years without joni again. go girl, go!!!
(From:Andy Gard, firstname.lastname@example.org)- Since this is my first submission to the JMHP, I must begin with a huge THANK YOU to Wally for all his efforts! You're a credit to your race (Human, that is).
In fact, following the tour via Wally's reports, I had a pretty good idea of what Mitchell's setlist would be. I think that enabled me to concentrate more on each tune as opposed to wondering what would be next (so thanks again, Wally!)
Never been to the San Jose Arena before (despite having lived in S.F. since '84) but it was your nice, basic, modern, sleek, soulless facility. Thanks to getting cosmically screwed in the BASS ticket lottery, my seats were in nosebleed territory (and to my surprise for such a large venue, there were no video screens in use), so I can't say much about the visual side of things, except that her background scrim was hella-cool; it reminded me more of a Maxfield Parrish art deco image than Joni's usual style of painting. "The last time I saw Joni was Detroit in '83 and she told me..." Having seen her twice as a headliner on that tour doing two sets and showcasing her piano and dulcimer playing as well as her unique gifts on guitar, I can understand the criticisms regarding her not playing long enough or not playing her classics. On the other hand, after 15 years (!!) and several retirement threats, it's such a thrill to see her performing at all that I'll gladly, gratefully accept anything she dishes out.
For me, the set highlights were "Crazy Cries of Love," "Sex Kills," and particularly "Just Like This Train," which she did in an exquisitely relaxed solo so each note, word and chord could be savored.
After her set, I stepped outside to apply a primer coat of tar to my lungs and chatted with several folks about the show so far (I was wearing my Joni colors proudly in the form of the T-shirt from the '83 tour). People seemed to fall into 2 camps--Joni enthusiasts like us and philistines who dismissed her set as "mellow/it all sounded the same/it put me to sleep." True, her set didn't have the upbeat funk of Van's or the raucous energy of Bob's. She doesn't "rock out" and she doesn't "jam." She presents her songs & lets them speak for themselves. The listener has to work a little bit (God forbid!) to follow the distinctive twists of her melodies and also listen for the lyrics (hers being far more intelligible in concert than the other 2). Of course, we know such listening offers awesome rewards but alas, in this "land of short attention spans, nothing is savored long enough to truly understand." Their loss.
(From:Bruce Hettema, email@example.com)- Well, here's my 2 cents worth. Oh, and by the way thanks Wally for the mention of the tour on your site. I hadn't read about it anywhere and had to really scramble to get tickets. Fortunately my wife knew someone at Bill Graham Presents.
As to my impression. This is the third time I have seen Joni. Once in the 70's (For the Roses) and the 80's (Shadows and Light) and she never looked better, her music has grown so much over the years (as we all have).
Following Van Morrison and his band was tough, they were tight, polished and had the crowd involved and moving. When Joni came out with her 3 bandmates, it felt more intimate and personal. Contrasted to Van's stiff demeanor, Joni came across as warm, though a bit nervous. Her set was mostly newer material (which is what we want) but this didn't stop the crowd from yelling for old hits (which she graciously declined to do, don't these people remember Miles of Aisles!) Throughout the set she kept up some brief banter before songs, setting the tone and explaining the inspiration.
My only comment on the set is that it would have been nice to break up the tone. Her new electric guitar, as noted before, permeates every song and I longed to hear her piano or just a plain acoustic guitar. And another comment on the audience, Keep quiet! Some obviously came only for Van or Bob, and there was a definite lack of courtesy by some concert goers. Oh how I long for smaller venue with only Join. I'll keep dreaming.
(From:Kranz, Leigh Anne, LeighAnne_Kranz@academic.com)- Here is my review of Joni's performance at the San Jose Arena 5/19/98:
Joni walked onstage with great stature and grace and bowed to the ecstatic crowd. Her band began the mellow, dream-like groove that would carry through the entire performance. She flickered like a flame as her body moved fluidly beneath her deep red dress. Her smoky voice was warm and controlled. She sang "Night Ride Home" with an intensity that I didn't remember from the album. Larry Klein, her surprisingly-tall former husband, hovered over his bass and kept his eyes riveted to her guitar. "I love the man beside me" she sang and I felt sad that things didn't work out better for them. The respect and affection seemed to be alive and well.
At the end of the first song, she began a dialogue with the crowd. She talked of her hometown as a place of many bridges, known as "Paris of the North". A place where young lovers could explore their bodies and emotions without prying eyes/ears. She then went into "Crazy Cries of Love" a new tune from her upcoming album.
She let the crowd know that she planned to go way back in time and play songs from her earlier albums. She said she hadn't toured in awhile so she wanted to play some songs she hadn't had a chance to perform. She then launched into "Harry House", but aborted the mission after a few bars. The problem was vague, but seemed to be a issue with her amp/tuning. She admitted that she was wasn't feeling well and was "nervous in the chute" and the crowd roared their support. She began again and the rhythm moved with the suspended power of a dinosaur's gait. The bare bones arrangements highlighted her intricate, multi-accented rhythms. Some of the fluidity of her recordings was missing, but the alternative worked just fine for me.
I was very impressed with her guitar playing. Her chord changes were smooth and her precision on neck slides was razor sharp. Her tone enveloped and washed over the auditorium like warm water. Soothing and sleepy.
"Slouching toward Bethlehem" upped the intensity of her set briefly. The volume of the band ebbed and flowed in just the right places. They all seemed very focused on the rhythm she established with her guitar. The drummer was fun to watch. He added so many varied sounds and never overpowered. The guitarist contributed subtle & haunting mood-altering flourishes. The musicians were generous and underscored the music, leaving Joni's rhythm to reign.
"Just like this Train" was done solo and once again her intricate guitar work was exposed. Very impressive.
She then launched into Black Crow and it rocked! Her body, which grooved hypnotically since the first song, took on a bad-ass sway. It was great to see this side of her in action. So often she is thought of as the gentle, wise folk singer. Her lyrics also reveal the tough, cussing, call-a-spade-a-spade, love-me-so naughty, big sister with the long-haired boyfriend persona.
Amelia followed and captured all the wide-open desert sensations of the album. Gorgeous.
Big Yellow Taxi was also done solo and her first attempt was hindered by a guitar-strap problem. She seemed frustrated, "Everything is going wrong tonight", but soon recovered and invited the crowd to stomp along. No one seemed to take her up on it. The crowd seemed mesmerized/lulled by the mood of the show. This version seemed less joyous & raucous than others I've heard, however when she imitated Bob Dylan on one verse, the audience came alive. She pointed out that this song had actually turned a couple of parking lots into parks.
Hejira was beautiful and full of angst. She paid tribute to Frank Sinatra again, "thought I heard old blue eyes singing..."
The relentless honesty that first drew me and countless other fans to her songwriting was showcased last night in "Facelift". A song about the generation-chasm between herself and her mother on the subject of...premarital sex. This is one daughter who sat amazed at the courage it took to sing such a personal, in-your-face song and to include it on the upcoming album that her mother will hear. Whoa! Great song.
Sex Kills was a powerful, embittered wake-up call (as it was meant to be) and the band swelled to add emphasis to the chorus.
Joni let us in on a little secret about her songwriting method. She told us of a day in BC when she sat on a rock with her guitar. She said she "tuned her guitar to the tune of the day". Coincidentally, the silk-screened stage backdrop depicted a silhouetted woman overlooking a bay from her rock perch. The words came to her later as she saw a disturbing headline when she went to buy groceries in town. "The Magdalene Laundries" was born. It was nice to gain an insight on how she finds her unique tunings and why they underscore the mood of her words so perfectly.
"Moon at the Window", a new tune, was jazzy and upbeat. At the end, the band quickly left the stage. The crowd cheered, but still seemed to be lulled into a pleasant stupor by the groove/mood of the set.
Joni came back solo for a subdued rendition of Woodstock. She finished the song and was gone without a word.
For me...a fan since the age of 14, a musician who began writing/singing/playing because of her...it was the performance of a lifetime and I will never forget it. She was herself in all her glory.
Leigh Anne Kranz
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)- Joni was spectacular with her four piece band playing tight free form Jazz to a rock arena audience. It was unfortunate that most people still remembered her for her folk stuff and came alive only for Big yellow Taxi and Woodstock. Even these two maybe because they were covered by others including Dylan and CSNY respectively. They were living in the past (some were sleeping), not Joni. She seems more creative and comfortable with the current band and the type of music she plays these days after experimenting a lot with albums like Dog eat dog, Mingus etc. She belted her new standards like Night ride home , Magdelene Laundries, Slouching towards Bethlehem with grace and knowledge of a soul who has seen and been through it all. She performed three songs from the Classic Heijra album including the title number, the melodic Amelia and the playfully aggressive black crow. Believe me Van Morrison was stirring in the back stage, did someone say "Comfort in melancholy". The instruments seem to be a bit out of tune, especially the base guitar. But overall a great performance by an artist who fails to compromise her art and vision to her past or to the current trends.
All three performers(Van , Bob and Joni) not appearing together was conspicuous by its absence.
(From:Palmer, Sue (PBD), Sue.Palmer@pbdir.com)-WOW! This is the first concert I've seen her at since the Universal shows back in the 70's! She was Fabulous. In fact, I got to meet her at the hotel before the show, and saw that she wasn't feeling great then, but she was gracious and I am awestruck! I miss the keyboards, but the sound was wonderful. Even with just four pieces, the effect was incredible. She is timeless in her writing, and the updates to her songs are a tribute to her talent and inventiveness. YOU MUST SEE THIS SHOW!
(From: Drewinsf, Drewinsf@aol.com)-PLEASE Wally, BEG Joni to go on tour ALONE! or with a more appropriate pairing, like Carole King, or even better, Shawn Colvin. I think she needs to tour with the "young new artists" so she can be better exposed ( although she will probably intimidate whoever she tours with, just because she is JONI) laugh......she needs to be seen and appreciated by her FANS not the jerks that were at the San Jose arena, ( which I attended)...Although some people walked out, SO WHAT? I and many others walked out on both Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, not because we didnt like them, but because we didnt know thier work. I am so thrilled to have seen her under any condition....even if she had only sung one song I would have paid the 85$ for the concert! Joni is more than worth it to major fans like me..........of course if i had my preference, I would love to see Joni do smaller venues over a few nights.........I think she underestimates her drawing power, after all, she does have several generations of fans to draw from!..I have never in my life witnessed a crowd of 20 thousand hush up like they did when she sang Amelia.....gorgeous! I think the reviews in the San Francisco papers were totally skewed and lame, and I am sure neither of the reviewers were fans, or didnt know her work very well.....I thought Joni's set was a smart choice on her part.....If people paid attention, they would notice that she sang two choice songs from each decade! Am I right? .....I would have been shocked if Joni ONLY played her hits, because although they stand up over time, they are after all about 25 to 35 years old! SO I say LET the hippies complain ( laugh) My generation ( early 30's) and YOUNGER knows her early work AND her current work and we were pleased to hear it ALL.....THANK YOU Walley for your website! Take care, Andrew........ps I know this probably sounds like Im an obsessed fan, and Ill admit it, I probably am, but I just got very riled up by the stupid reviews I read in the Chronicle....and I think Joni deserved a better review...at least a more fair and accurate one......take it easy.
(From: RICHARD DATE )-I will just say that the San Jose show was great, but Joni seems to have some kind of "hay fever" problem from playing at the Gorge-- or so she said. Hopefully this will go away when she gets back to L.A., but this is the season for allergy-sufferers.
She had to re-start three of her songs, either because of equipment- malfunction or because she didn't get the intro correct. But the reaction from the crowd was very sympathetic, like "it's OK, we know you haven't toured for X years." ...actually cheering her on, which was way-damn-cool. :) This was a friendly, respectful audience-- there was not one heckler in the house of 30,000+.
On the other hand, some people were chatting during her set-- but I can understand this, because her music doesnt hit you in the gut with a back beat, it requires some mental attention which may be lacking after a few brewskis and an hour of heavy VanM R&B;. Most were waiting for Dylan, but willing to give Joni a listen.
The acoustics were great! Probably the best I have ever heard in a building of that size. It was loud, but not penetrating. Very well balanced, so that you could make out most of Joni's lyrics even if you didn't know the words. No echo-problems.
She was the only one of the three headliners who actually spoke to the audience in-between songs, and her intelligence and wit came through loud and clear--and the audience responded vocally. By the time she got to Magdalene Laundries and Sex Kills, I got the impression that the crowd was finally paying some attention to these intense lyrics--and perhaps beginning to appreciate her growth, if they had not already been so moved. She finished with a slow-jazzy version of Woodstock--and the crowd ate it up!
Of course, for her die-hard fans, every song was a moment of sheer ecstacy--and she did not disappoint them in any way.
The show lasted an exhausting 4.5 hours.
(From: David S. Reich )-Wally, Here's a bit of a review. A slightly different slant than the usual play-list.
I'm not sure I was at the same show in San Jose that some of the rest of you attended. The audience where I sat was great. And as for the show itself ... read on.
I for one will be sorely disappointed if there are not both Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan live releases from this tour!!! They were smokin'!!! They rocked, and jammed, and Joni played great jazz at the same time!!! People who have not heard this tour will be blown away!!!
For those who don't know, the drummer playing with Joni was Brian Blade. I saw him just a few months ago on tour as McCoy Tyner's drummer. (For the culturally impaired in the crowd, McCoy Tyner played with Miles Davis and John Coltrane as well as leading his own bands for the last few decades.) That should tell you how good he is and the type of music he can play.
I've seen Joni only twice before. (And Dylan just once.) Once in winter '68 - '69 in small college theater and briefly in 1975 in a large theater (probably the Music Hall in Boston) as a small part of Dylan's first tour in many years. Joni did a folk-style thing, but was sort of lost in the theater. Dylan's set was standard mid 70's straight-ahead rock. If I recall Mick Ronson (or some other British guitar player) led the band. Except for the singing and the songs it was fairly boring. In another words the band and their performance were nothing to write home about.
Before getting to particulars about the San Jose concert I should explain that I'm very particular about the music I listen to, the quality of the instrumental work, and love improvisation. Why hear something exactly like the recording you already have at home! As far as choice of material -- it is up to the artist, it's their show, not mine. I'm going to a concert to see and hear Joni Mitchell (or whoever), not a Joni Mitchell tribute group!
Van Morrison was acceptable, although by the end of his set I'd had enough.
Joni's performance was amazing. Who cares what her outfit looked like -- she and the band cooked!!! (Uh oh - I'm going to run out of exclamation points before I'm done here.) Everybody, myself included, probably tends to think of Joni as a singer-songwriter, and to think of the great music she has recorded. Well, Joni Mitchell belongs in the top rank of electric guitarists. Joni Mitchell is in the same league as Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, John Cippolino, Steve Kimock, etc. As well as jamming along nicely, Joni and the band found the same rocking, improvisational, extremely complex groove that the Dead, Hot Tuna, etc. usually play(ed) around with. Quite a pleasant surprise! I went to the concert expecting the songs, the lyrics, the compositions, and the craftsmanship of her recordings. I had not expected the lively, fiery, dynamic, energetic, electric, jamming performance.
Bob Dylan's set -- again, fooled by expectations. Again, I expected singing and songs, which were provided, in some variant of the folk/blues styles of rock that Dylan has recorded over the years. That has usually also been the style of his performances that I've seen on tv. Think of Neil Young at Dylan's 50th Birthday concert. Well, that would have been the low point of Dylan's set last night. (It was also surpassed by most of Joni's set too!) Dylan and his band also delivered a rocking set. They too found that rocking groove and ran with it most of the time. They just weren't as musically adventurous and creative as Joni and her band.
It is interesting to see what songs Dylan chooses to play. I found it very telling that on the benefit broadcast about 8-10 years ago - (I think it was LiveAid, but I'm not sure, but if I recall Dylan was accompanied by Keith Richards and Ron Wood and that he broke a string and Keith handed him another guitar) - Dylan chose to play 2 songs that were over 25 years old, one of which was "Masters of War". Which is still a current part of his repertoire, and which he played again last night. It is one of my favorites and probably the most disturbing. Listen to the song, and read the news. Thirty years later it is as true as ever and does not need a single word changed!!
Well, thanks for the soap-box. If you have the chance don't miss Joni. If you don't have tickets and can afford it there were plenty of scalpers in San Jose.
(From: jan gyn )-Last night (5/19) in San Jose was my first date with Joni. Her music was both dynamic and ethereal, the harmonies shifting like a cloudy sky. She also looked terrif in an autumnal, Prada-ethnic dress and had a friendly rapport with the audience, even stopping and starting over a couple songs. Her singing danced rhythmically with the words, especially on the high parts of 'Big Yellow Taxi'. The overall sound was like a watercolor- a singularity of subtle shadings. It's Joni's world, we just live in it... BTW, Joni was bookended with some supposed icons of classic rock, but since I never touch that stuff, I couldn't even give you an educated guess. The doddering Bay Area media lapped them up, so their value is suspect.
(From: Grissom, Mark )-Joni did a lovely, lovely set in San Jose, the perfect break between Van's serious funk and Bob Dylan's stunningly vital performance. What a treat!!! I was blessed with wonderful seats, on the left side of the stage, up a little bit, so I had a big PA stack pointed right at me. (All in all, the SJ Arena is quite a nice place for a big venue...well run and as intimate as a room that big can be). Every nuance of Joni's voice and her sympathetic accompaniment came thru crystal clear. Listening to Joni's early albums, she often sang in a very high register, but now her voice is golden and honey-like in its mid-range.
I can't add much, others have mentioned the highlights, but I do have to say that "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" was beautifully done. Great song that I missed somehow. I was particularly moved by "Hejira". I have loved that album and song so much over the years...to hear the words spill out live really got to me and I noticed tears whelling up in my eyes. The song just says so much about love and loving. On a night like that, seeing three of my alltime heros, my girlfriend seated next to me, it just got to me...
The new songs sound great. (My friend thought "Facelift" may have been about her recently found daughter). And the ones from "Turbulent Indigo" were done so well, too. I do agree about the sameness of the sound, but it worked in an almost meditative way for me...lulling one in, washing over and around Joni's voice. I guess the "Hejira" sound is sorta what works best for her...it is the closest thing to what she is doing now, minus Jaco, of course.
Oh, and let it be said, Bob Dylan was FANTASTIC!!!!!!
SpinyMark in Berkeley
(From: Christine Nathanson -email@example.com)-Hey Wally!! Joni was amazing! This devoted Joni fan sincerely appreciates the Joni Mithcell web page and your devotion to keeping us all informed. It's nice to know that there are others out there who feel the same way that I do about Joni and her music. For almost 30 years my sister and I have loved Joni and her music..and of course, we attended the May 19th concert together. We need to make sure that Joni knows how many of us there are out here that love and support her!
More intimate venues for concerts would be incredible---I'd be there in a flash--just let me know where and when!!!
A heart-felt thanks to you, Wally!!
(From: Jill Bramblett )-I flew all the way from Dallas, Texas to see this show with my best friend, who is also a Joni fanatic. I always said that if she ever went on tour again I would go wherever, whenever. Since I was pretty young when she toured before, I never got to see her, so I jumped on this opportunity. I thought the show was sensational. I was so excited about the concert that I really didn't care what she played. Although I would have liked to have seen her strum an acoustic guitar or play a piano for a couple of numbers, I realized, as evidenced by her recent albums, that her voice has lowered over the years and that she probably can't quite hit the notes like she used to on some of her older, more acoustic songs. Of course, in no way did this affect the intensity of her lyrics and musical accompaniment. I found her performance intoxicating and her almost effortless guitar playing awe inspiring. Her performance reassured me that she is a woman of class and brilliant musical talent.
(From: Hijinx2nt )-Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the show, I am still enjoying it. I feel truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the magic that is Joni Mitchell. I loved hearing three songs from Hejira and thought that the selection of material was wonderful. Sex Kills was great live. The song Night Ride Home has very special memories for me of my partner who was unable to go to the concert. Hearing this as the opening song made me feel like she was there with me, feeling all of the joy of the whole show. I will be thanking my lucky stars (and Joni Mitchell) for this concert forever. I can't wait to buy the new cd.
(From: Richard Goldman )-Hi, Wally! I stumbled onto your website after the concert at San Jose Arena. It's so great. What a great job you've done. And I'm so glad you wrote about those cruel reviews in the SF papers. Joni obviously went way over Joel Selvin's head. The guy should really retire. He was unkind, I thought. Needlessly. I wondered if we were even at the same concert. So...thanks for saying that. I needed that reality check. My friends who I went with were equally appalled at his review.
1. We had such awful seats at San Jose Arena, that I decided I *had* to see Joni again, and so.... was able to get a good seat at the Pond Arena tomorrow (Saturday) night. I opted for section 221, row G, seat 5, as opposed to the floor, center, about row 18, because: I was afraid I'd have to look over someone's head(s) and that 221 would be just elevated enough, and close enough, and it'll be fine. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. I live in SF, and am flying down on my own, just for the show, and spending the night near the airport. I'm jazzed.
I have loved reading your notes on the tour. Really really wonderful.
2. So...I was talking to my friend Lynne tonight (not a Joni fan), who works at PacBell, and mentioned your site, and she knew all about it: Says you work at PacBell, and were the first to put up a website like that for Joni. That she had read about it, and you were well known there. I was so impressed that she knew you, not a rock or folk fan herself. So...I thought, I've just got to write him and say 'hi'.
3. As I said, I'm going on my own tomorrow night, and who knows if you'll even read/see this til way after the weekend, BUT.....if you happen to, and want say 'hi', I'd *love* that. As I said, I'm in Sec. 221, to the right of the stage as you're facing it: Row G, seat 5. I'm sure I'll be fine on my own, and loved the concert in San Jose so much (except for being SO FAR AWAY FROM THE STAGE!)... that I know I'll be with 'the crowd'. Just thought that....during Van's set, which was mildly interesting to me, if you wanted to say 'hi' you know where I am.
To find me, you can have a quick look at my webpage, for a visual: http://www.slip.net/~richard2
And again, thanks *so* much for the wonderful site. It is truly a great tribute to an incredible artist whom I (and so many) have followed over the years.
Take good care,
(From: Steve Ladd )-Wally - (thanks for all your great web work and reporting. It's been fun to read the reviews before and after our concert here. By the way, I do a great deal of Web work, and might be able to help out if needed).
What a thrill to attend a concert featuring three such wonderful musicians! Joni especially looked great and I was reminded how her voice and her songwriting are both so truly unique and wonderful.
However, I do have to say as one of those with "cheap" $50 seats in the upper deck off the left of the state, that none of the musician's sets came through very well. The sound system was terrible where we were. You couldn't make out any of the words sung or spoken. For such a high priced show that must have grossed a huge amount, my friends and I were stunned and disappointed at how Bill Graham Presents could have allowed this to happen. Several whole sections of people surely suffered our same fate.
Although the sound was better in other sections, I have to say that Joni should stick to smaller venues, perhaps no more than 3,000 seats or so. Her music is so intensely intimate that it gets lost on the huge crowds in these arenas. Play a few nights in each city if crowds warrant, but avoid this big venues.
I listened again when I returned home to TURBULENT INDIGO and was taken anew by the power and depth of these amazing songs, and the voice that carries them. How I wish we would all have been joyfully overpowered in this same way at the concert I attended. But that just won't happen in such large halls.
S T E V E L A D D
(From: Leslie Mixon )-It's taken me several days to come down to earth following the San Jose concert. What can I say about Joni's presence, integrity, artistry, and still astounding beauty?
I would have given up Van and Bob for three sets of Joni - without a doubt. I hung onto every note... it was obvious to me that Joni puts every degree of her heart and soul into performance - like a spirit coming forth.
She was soulful. She was vulnerable. She was powerful. The voice that could make the walls melt.
I felt like I was sitting at the feet of the goddess of art and wisdom.
I was very touched by Larry Klein and Brian Blade - their smiles were beautiful, constant and sincere.
A friend asked me, "Are you all right?" I'm sure I appeared glazed over, in an altered state of consciousness. My answer, each and every time, "Much More Than All Right."
The critical reviewers - they didn't deserve to be in the audience, and obviously are too self-absorbed to get it. Joni's music requires an open heart and an open mind.
I am so grateful - and hope her management responds to the requests for an East Coast appearance.
(From: Dfcassoc@aol.com)-Dear Wally B,
I consider my self a pretty big Joni fan. I have been wanting to see her live fro years now and needless to say, that has been difficult. Anyway, I went to see her perform at the San Jose Arena with Dylan And Morrison. Well, it was a good show but I was slightly dissapointed. I will tell you why.
Her performance was dissapointing for me for various reasons. First of all, the San Jose Arena was no place to see Joni Mitchell. It is a cavernous hockey rink with absolutely no atmosphere. I could barely see Joni from where I was sitting. Maybe I was just kidding myself that it would not be like that, but it was. Jon'i's music did not fit this kind of place. Her music, voice, and passion seemed to almost get swallowed up by the arena. The other reason the show was not great was because she was a bit rusty. A time or two she had to start her songs over. Of course, I can understand this seeing as she has not toured in sometime. But in the end, my dream of seeing Joni Mirtchell live had "lost a little glamour coming true" (One of my favorite lines of hers, by the way).
Well, what is my point, you may ask? Well, I don't know if you have some connection to Joni but it would be great to convince her to do another tour. Something smaller, playing theaters and such. I think it would really be the only place to see her. I can't imagine that she would not agree more with this either. Her music is so complex, lyrically and musically, that it can really only be enjoyed in a smaller more intimate setting. Now, I know she may not be ready to go touring again (If the pattern holds up, she might not tour again for 15 years or I don't know!), but it would be an incredible gift to her fans. I think she definitely has a powerful performer side to her, too. She can really draw a crowd in with her stage presence and talent. Few people have that gift.
Anyway, this is what I am driving at. If you could maybe talk to her, that would be wonderful. Maybe just drop a line to her. If you'd like, you could forward her this, too. Anything to convince her that it would mean everthing to us to see her live once more.
(From: Le Vierge du Houle, firstname.lastname@example.org)-SJ Concert Review
The River View ... Inner Thoughtillions
Van, wearing black; Joni wearing red-orange; Bob, we a ring black: Ears.
The White Arena; the seats and steps, escalating memories, dark regrets,
... being quiet, allowed for now as hallowed/hollowed fuel.
The songs V sang brimming with soul,
The songs I sang in languages full,
The songs B sang, inception's jewel,
Letting cracks, thought's nets be ... hope, ions ... still
Crystalline sutras mantras yantras, "
Everybody must get" all breathing tantras,
The slight shift of the long rivers ...
To us, its banks, nearer and nearer ...
Then beside me, MG's visage shivers, tears,
Fell beside me ... Cathy, your ears, yours ... remembering felt
My wornfelt mirrors, the riverrunning mirrors:
The senses moving, raining notes, tiny clears
Our memories, our fears, our Love, Time, Motions ...
Three Rains hear gushing towards One Ocean's,
Emersion's origin, IonI, she, uplifts excursion's
[Being: The San Jose Concert's Inner Thought,000,000s]
("Let the wind carry me.") recitations
(the thoughts of all, us, wholly ... resuscitations
)watergiven human beings ... shhh ... awe ... calmly calming(
(From: Matthew, email@example.com)-Wally:
I flew all the way from the East Coast specifically to see this show, to hear this woman who inspired me to pick up the guitar and who showed me a world I had only dreamed existed. So never mind that the acoustics in the San Jose Arena are terrible. Never mind the endless streams of pot smoke rising up from the floor seats. And definitely never mind the drunk fratboys in the row in front of me who came to see Dylan and complained throughout both Van's and Joni's sets. I did not notice them at all.
As soon as Joni walked onstage, I was in a different world. I recognized the opener, "Night Ride Home", by the first few notes. I am usually very withdrawn and silently appreciative when I see a show, but not this time. I was screaming my head off when she first walked out. As each successive song began - "Just Like This Train", "Harry's House" - I could not keep my mouth shut: "Oh, yeah!" "Oh my God, she's doing this one!"
I was expecting the set to be mostly songs from "Taming the Tiger", so I was speechless when she pulled out the songs from "Hejira", one after the other, and succeeded in making me weep three times over, no small acheivement.
Her voice has such a wonderful texture, smoky and nuanced and quite deep, yet she can still hit those higher notes when she wants to. I was stunned by the force of her voice when she really belts out certain notes, it's not something you can hear in the recordings the way you can in person.
It was really a perfect set, even with the sniffles and the false starts. The rough edges made the whole thing feel so comfortable and let me forget I was in a massive sports arena. It reminded me of the low-fi shows I do here in DC, just me and my guitar in the corner of a cafŽ. Joni did a little of everything from the folk songs ("Big Yellow Taxi") to the pop ("Harry's House") and, to my heart's delight, even rolled out the jazz: "Moon at the Window", which is just one of the best damn songs in the world.
I could tell when she was ready to finish, and I knew she would say goodbye with "Woodstock". I adore the live version she does, the original seems so starry-eyed (no offense intended, I'm just from a much later, more jaded generation). This was more brooding, with murkier chords. I was sad yet content when she was done. I could have listened to her all night and into the next day, but greed aside, I was just happy that I was fortunate enough to see my favorite artist in the world.
Much much thanks to you, Wally, for making this site what it is and for using the Internet for something so worthwhile.
First Set: Van Morrison
Second Set: Joni Mitchell
Third Set: Bob Dylan
LIZ: I am seriously sleep deprived this
morning but I wanted to send out a note
about last night's concert. Joni was beautiful, Joni was magnificiant,
Joni was extraordinary! It was a dream come true for me last night and I
feel so calm and relaxed this morning...and a little tired.
Now, I'm not going to write a lot because I still haven't really taken it
all in yet, but here are just a couple of thoughts that come to mind. Her
show went by so fast - she came out and sang NRH and then it just seemed
like she was all of a sudden playing Woodstock, everything just went so
fast! Stay Joni - play more, play more! She seemed quite nervous at first
and stopped and restarted a couple of songs. She just sort of all of a
sudden hit it though when she got into Black Crow and was simply amazing
after that. My two favorites that she did were Sex Kills and Magdelaine
Laundries, she just killed those two, her voice and guitar playing were
just so captivating.
I really loved Larry Klein, I love the way he plays bass almost as much as
I love the way Joni plays guitar. The way he holds it so close and sort of
hunches over it, he really makes love to that thing!
The audience was pretty good. Some 'talkers' during the first few songs
but even the non-Joni fans really started getting into her by about the
middle of the set, the folks really seemed to appreciate her and seemed
captivated by her performance, it was great!
Now me, well, when she walked on stage I teared up, couldn't help myself,
teared up in Amelia, Facelift, Magdelaine Laundries and I think Woodstock
too, as a matter of fact, I'm tearing up again right now. It was a great
night for me, something I never thought I would get to experience. Let's
hope she is up to doing another tour all by herself really soon!
I really wanted to buy one of the signed lithos, they were great, expensive
but great! I missed out on it though because when I arrived they didn't
have them yet and when I returned they were sold out.
Signing off, tired but very, very happy...
JAN: Hello everybody. I'm Jan, and I
saw Joni for the first time last night in San Jose. She was wonderful-
her stuff seemed so fresh and
dynamic compared to the other two on the bill (though I enjoyed the
snarling thump of BD's 'Highway 61'). She also looked terrif in an
autumnal, Prada-ethnic dress and had a friendly rapport with the audience,
even stopping and starting over a couple songs....
-jan (looking at these words through sleepy, allergy reddened eyes)....
AL: I will just say that the San
Jose show was great, but Joni seems
to have some kind of "hay fever" problem from playing at the Gorge--
or so she said. Hopefully this will go away when she gets back
to L.A., but this is the season for allergy-sufferers.
She had to re-start three of her songs, either because of equipment-
malfunction or because she didn't get the intro correct. But the
reaction from the crowd was very sympathetic, like "it's OK, we know
you haven't toured for X years." ...actually cheering her on, which
was way-damn-cool. :) This was a friendly, respectful audience--
there was not one heckler in the house of 30,000+.
On the other hand, some people were chatting during her set--
but I can understand this, because her music doesnt hit you
in the gut with a back beat, it requires some mental attention
which may be lacking after a few brewskis and an hour of
heavy VanM R&B. Most were waiting for Dylan, but willing
to give Joni a listen.
The acoustics were great! Probably the best I
have ever heard in a building of that size. It was loud, but
not penetrating. Very well balanced, so that you could make
out most of Joni's lyrics even if you didn't know the words.
She was the only one of the three headliners who actually spoke
to the audience in-between songs, and her intelligence and wit
came through loud and clear--and the audience responded
vocally. By the time she got to Magdalene Laundries
and Sex Kills, I got the impression that
the crowd was finally paying some attention to these intense
lyrics--and perhaps beginning to appreciate her growth, if they
had not already been so moved. She finished with a slow-jazzy
version of Woodstock--and the crowd ate it up!
Of course, for her die-hard fans, every song was a moment of
sheer ecstacy--and she did not disappoint them in any way.
The show lasted an exhausting 4.5 hours.
JOHN: Many thanks to Julius and
Mary Grace for arranging the
pre-show JMDL dinner... what a pleasure to put a *real*
person behind the screen-names with whom I've emailed
all these months... we must do this again!
I've been a fan of both Dylan and Van Morrison for many
years, and seeing them live again after all these years
would have been reason enough to attend this show (last
saw Dylan in 1965, last saw Van in 1990)... but for me,
the evening's highlight was seeing JONI. I was covered
in goosebumps for her entire set, and memories of her
voice and lush soundscapes have been with me all day.
After hearing some stories of rude/noisy behavior at
previous venues. I was prepared for the same at this
show, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so little
talking at this concert... not my usual experience at
venues of this size.
I'm not yet prepared for a song-by-song commentary,
since after two consecutive nights of after-midnight
shows (Monday I saw Elliot Smith with 400+ people who
were crammed to the walls of a 275-capacity club), I
am too sleep-deprived to attempt coherent sentences,
but I *will* say that those of you about to see her
in Southern California are in for a treat!
MDESTE1: This is a long(ish) post so if
you're into soundbites you might as well hit
the delete/escape button. I perceive the members of this discussion list to be
serious Joniphiles and judging from the many comments about the concert
reports those who cant go really want to know what happened at Joni's latest
show. Now this night was so special that I MUST vent a little so forgive me
but I dont have a therapist on call so you are it for today. Allow me to
digress and provide some background. I have gone to a thousand concerts since
1965. I look at a show through many lenses. In fact there were many lenses
through which to look and listen to this performance by one of my all time all
time's. But I must start at the beginning. i had totally given up on going to
Jonis local gig because I couldn't know for sure whether I could have that
night due to other pending obligations. "Whether" I could finally cleared up
on Sunday so I rushed to the JMDL list and posted my fervent pleading for any
spare tickets. I checked my mailbox 5 times a day to no avail so I gave up. At
5:30am on tuesday I am on the road to the office listening to Carey 4 times in
a row and each time smiling at the joy the opening chimey guitar intro gives
me, listening to the incredible backing vocals she does for herself on the
choruses and daydreaming that it is I who is charming Joni at the Mermaid
cafe. My day goes well and I am now looking forward to my evening 5 mile run,
checking my email only for business links and WHAM it is 10 minutes to 4pm and
someone is offering TWO tickets to san Jose. I call. Its true. Oh my god. Can
we get a babysitter (Mom has always succumed to bribes) and can I even reach
my wife to let her know what we are about to do. ie. if I cant reach her in
the next 30 minutes I'm dead, but after many rings of the home phone I hear
her lilting voice (Yessssss!) and so it is arranged. I call back the seller
and we agree to make the trade. By the way hail to the JMDL Discussion LIST
without whose existence I could never have gone. Last minute precious duckets
at face value price can only be done between true fans. Such events are
always the best. Just when you have totally given up, you are suddenly on your
way and I didnt even have a chance to sweat or ponder. By the time my wife and
I hook up at mom's there isnt much time to get there and the San Jose area
traffic CAN be horrible but tonites the night and we cruise to the San Jose
Arena (Shark Tank) in plenty of time. I cant believe Im on my way to actually
see Joni. Out of all the concerts I have ever attended (number above) I have
never seen Joni Mitchell and/or the Beatles. Everybody else who is
historically significant [including Van Morrison (12 times) and Bob Dylan (4
times)] that you can think of I have seen. But never Joni. Funny all the more
because she and stills are probably the biggest influences on my guitar
playing. The reason why my having gone to many concerts over the years is
important is because when you see an artist many times you become aware of the
changes they go through. A new fan might expect an artist to play the album
they have been listening to (and love) except that the artist never plays
songs anymore from that phase of their career and so you can be very
disappointed if thats what you expect. So this time I had the luxury of
reading the prior set lists and so I knew she probably wouldnt play any of her
first 4 albums etc. Also this wasnt Joni alone but Joni with two other giants
of music and so that alone makes for a different format in that the roadies
have to reset the stage three times and so the musicians themselves make
compromises in terms of HOW they do their material. Maybe the 4 female gospel
singers dont perform with the artist on this tour etc etc. One final thing I
kept in mind was Joni hasnt toured in awhile. The voice is a very
sophisticated instrument. When an artist is young they stay up all night
singing all year long, performing frequently and touring with their band and
as such their "instrument" is "in shape". When an artist takes a long time off
from performing, the instrument can get out of shape and it loses its muscle
tone and is good for a short time but CAN lose the range it normally enjoys
and the adjustments and ease of transition from natural to falsetto can be
less tha what the artist is used to. Singing is like gymnastics. Watch the
performance of an olympic figure skater one year after she turns professional
(Oksana Baiule for instance) and the form is still there but the ultra
exquisite timing is not. Some people may have certain expectations and wonder
for instance why an artist doesnt sing a song the same way they heard it. And
before I go any farther, dont worry, Jonis voice was great last night. The
show began with Van Morrisons band and Van dressed like an "Amish gangster"
(USA Today) is a good description. I have seen van many times and I love him
in a club where the nuances of his arrangements can be heard but the Graham
Company's sound system is always heavy on the lead vocal (ie booming) and
there were a myriad of technical problems. I did discover one thing that
future concert goers might keep in mind. Special note:There was a PERFECT mix
of the entire concert being played through the sound piped into the MENS ROOM
(ceiling speakers) so if you want to tape the show that's the place to tape
it. You might look funny holding a walkman up to the ceiling but the mix from
those speakers was fab. Anyway I began to worry about Jonis sound since they
were messing up Vans horribly and he wasn't too happy about it. Van by the
way left the stage placing his vocal mike with stand over his shoulders like
Jesus carrying the cross, walked out of the spotlights and literally through
the entire ensemble 20 feet at the roadie standing in the shadows by the
stairs to the dressing room. Van IS a tempermental guy but that fit of pique
was one of his better tantrums. I guessed correctly that we wouldnt be getting
a second encore. 15 minutes of roadies and the stage which was crowded for Van
is suddenly very minimalist. The pedal steel ensemble to the left, Larry
Kleins bass amp gear back left, the drum set to the immediate right of center
and all the set-ups at the very front of the stage. One of the signs of the
true master artist is a sparse stage. Then I noticed no piano. No acoustic
guitars. I wondered how she was going to pull this off. The backdrop staging
consisted of five large banners forming one maxfield parrish like composite of
a woman (angel?) sitting on a cliff overlooking the rivermouth emptying into
the sea? Theres a cross on the other side and it is a golden sunset. Joni in
her youth gazing across the great lakes perhaps.....NAH. Anyway the backdrop
was highly effective and the lights changing behind it turned the picture from
sunrise to sunset. It was almost as good as a light show and was perfect for
her performance atmosphere. From her first song her ensemble had a really big
sound. She plays a custom electric guitar without using picks and as such she
gets all kinds of harmonics and after tones to the extent where it really
seems like there is more than one guitar player playing. Like keith Richards
she is "the band" and her playing produces the entire song and her playing
alone encompasses the entire body of the song. Thats why she can do any song
all by herself and you miss almost nothing. The other bandmates are fillers
who enhance the atmospherics. The basic sound is reminsicent of Andy Summers
(The Police). Lots effects but the sound is totally clean and loud. The most
minute fingering produces this big rich bubbly sound that one can almost
touch. Only the most controlled players can handle volume like that. people
like Ry Cooder and mark Knopfler. She chose for this night (or tour) to use
this one ambience and or style throughout her entire set. This is why some of
the ignorant critics are saying some critical things. they dont get it. And
this is why I prefaced my comments with the statements about where the artist
is at this time in her life. One simply must take this into account. If one
came to praise Jonis piano playing you may have been dissapointed. I wasnt. I
could hear the sound she made all night. Her playing is infused with so many
complex phrasings and colors that it was mindboggling. I am not fully fluent
on all of her songs so there were some that I dont know the name of but this
was as impressionistic a performance as any monet painting. One has to see
through the haze of the total sounds hitting you. Only a master can do this. I
hasten to add that there arent many female guitar players who can do what Joni
was able to do. Literally throwing in tricks and licks to paint her aural
vision. Scraping with the backs of her fingernails then pinching next to the
bridge. Muffling with her palm to produce harmonics to go with the raw notes
her nails produce. From a guitar standpoint what I saw and heard was the
closest thing Ive heard to musical impressionism. Dabs of sound. Close up it
looks like confusion at times. On the whole an image that has touched your
mind. Joni was suprisingly good as a guitarist. AND she was playing electric.
It is stunning how she has changed her technique and almost invented a new one
for electric. By the way she played everything from literally one tuning. More
interestingly she never RE-tuned once she started. I cant remember ever seeing
THAT. Even Eric Clapton retunes. In trying to think of what other woman has
such instrumental ability in the pop-rock field and maybe Bonnie Raite and
Chrissy Hind. They can not touch her as a writer. Now alterior tunings tend to
make ones playing sound fairly complex but Joni was beyond simply that. Her
interpretation of Big Yellow Taxi, and the positively oblique encore version
of Woodstock was impressionism at its best. I cant say for sure whether she
did anything from Mingus but Mingus was in her blood big time last night,
right down to the failure to play piano or acoustic guitar. Jazz people are
uncompromising in their present interpretations (where they are today) and
that is what all the critics and even some fans are forgetting about this
artist. Joni is an artist in the truest sense of the word. the real deal not
someone TRYING to be an artist like "The angst strumming female pretenders".
Another thing I noticed was the overwhelming influence of Larry klein. Klein
creates alot of textures for her current sound by hitting his string and then
using his volume and tone controls on his instrument to produce an
undercurrent of color rather than a bass "note". He plays the bass like the
pedal steel player plays the pedal steel, introducing his sound by increasing
the volume and then fading his sound out below the sound of her guitar layer
almost before you realize it was there in the first place. The effect is to
produce the pallet on which Joni paints her picture. I was trying to figure
out who influenced joni more, Klein or mingus. Songs I liked best were
Magdalene laundries, Face Lift, and Second Chance (?). I also liked Sex Kills
except she tended to run the two words of the title together too fast unlike
on the album. Her voice is still incredible and one of the most original
voices in the entire world of music. She seemed to not want to try and hit the
upper register last night but that could be the fact that she hasnt played
enough and her voice isnt there yet or simply the cold she has contracted. The
upper register isnt needed anyway in her current stuff and her phrasing is so
mature that it didnt matter. I came away from my first live Joni experience as
I felt when I came out of the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. Impressionist Art does
that to you. It stimulates your mind and senses far more than you realize
until you leave its presence find your mind incapable of forgetting about it.
Its tremendously subliminal and haunting. The images of Joni from where I was
sitting which was at the other end of the arena added to the impressionist
vision. Here was this big sound and emanating from a smallish painting on the
wall of the gallery across the room from me, the reds, the golds and the dabs
of light. Joni Renoir ? I wish to conclude with my final observation. Here was
Joni, the most unmadonnalike female with the same hairdo as she had in 1968. I
had to laugh, no Cindy lauper here, totally radical. Seriously, an artist to
the core. God I loved that. I felt priivleged to have been there and I will be
grateful to Liz and the JMDL forever. Along with Van and Bob. Who today will
be standing on a stage when these gods retire forever to Mt.Olympus. Pearl
jam???? Jewell?? I dont think so. So last night was to treasure. I must
confess something, no, three things. One, the show took so long and my last
minute baby sitting arrangement made me feel sorry for my mom staying up late
with our kids, and since Jonis set lasted until 10:30 and I had a 45 minute
drive to go back we decided to leave and so I never got to hear Bob Dylans set
and ...two, I dont feel one twinge of remorse about that...three, I would have
given anything to have heard Carey. The net result was that the last image in
my mind and ears was Jonis abstract version of woodstock. This was in your
face to the critics as if to say, take that. Self indulgence,? Hardly. Genius
is often mocked by mediocre minds said Einstein. We could listen to nothing on
the car radio the entire way home. What a way to go.
JULIUS: I'm doing fine up here on cloud nine,
still delirious after a great night in
San Jose. Joni was in fine form despite the pollin problem she picked up at
the Gorge. I'll not going to write a full review, as I would be repeating
observations already made by others. But I do have a few comments about the
concert and pre-concert jmdl gathering:
- The San Jose Meet & Greet was alot of fun and very well attended. We were
22 people. We didn't have much time, but we all got a chance to meet each
other, exchange tapes and tickets and chat a bit about memorable JMDL posts
from the past that we recall, etc. There was a constant buzz of chatter going
on from beginning to end. The food and service at the restaurant, Eulipia,
was good and we were able to finish dinner and head out to the Arena by 7:00
I'm not remembering all names, but among those attending were Darice and
husband, Mark Carbone, John Miller, Al Date, Rich Neuwirth, MG Valentinsson,
Leslie and Steve Mixon, Peggy Park and husband, Craig Harris, Michael Paz. I
know there are more... Maybe someone can fill in who I missed. Of course,
there will be photos coming soon, too.
- Joni's set was fabulous. She was resplendent playing and swaying
rhythmically in front of the painted river scene backdrop that is based on one
of her painting that will be on TTT. The colors and style of the banners
remind me of the cover art on "Clouds".
- From where I was sitting the crowd was really respectful and appreciative of
Joni. I heard many cries of "I love you, Joni" besides my own. I came out of
my trance a few times and looked around the Arena. There was no milling
around...everyone seemed riveted to her. Very intimate, really, for a venue
that size. Many standing ovations, but when she would start playing again,
people kindly sat down to listen intently and give everyone a chance to see
her. That was cool: respect.
- I liked the whole set, but I was particulary impressed by the segment that
came after she introduced the band: a tight, rocking (and I do mean ROCKING)
Black Crow, into an etherial heart-rending Amelia, with Joni standing in the
soft glow of a single spotlight. I started getting misty as soon she sang
those first beautiful lines: "I was driving across the burning desert..." It
just awesome. Then there was Hejira, which I also loved. Of course,
Woodstock is a personal favorite and she rendered it stunningly as an encore.
- It seemed that a great many people were there primarily to see Joni at the
San Jose show. At least a third. In fact, when I went to buy my Joni
memorabilia in the middle of the Dylan set, I went to all three stands and
they were completely sold out of the t-shirts with the Taming the Tiger art on
them. Those puppies flew out of there, the person working one of the booths
told me. They ran out before Joni finished her set. First thing I'm gonna do
when I get to Pauley is buy one or two. They're the hot merchandise ticket
for this tour, it appears.
SoCal, get ready for a grand time.
MICHAEL: Hello to all-
Kev and I made it back from SFO late this afternoon. We both enjoyed
the show tremendously. Kevin liked Joni alot, even though he is not a
huge fan, he definitely got a different perception of who and what she
is after this show. We both enjoyed meeting EVERYONE at the pre show
dinner, esp. Julius, who was a fab host. MG arrived late and we were all
worried about her (like she was a sister or something). Les never
showed, much to everyones disappointment to hear about your mom Les, for
me also it woulda been No Contest and I love Joni alot) I was feeling
severely under the weather, thought I was having a Malaria relapse.
Eating dinner and visiting with everyone made me feel better and when
Joni came on I was oblivious to everything around me (so I can't comment
on any talking or heckling etc.) and my stomach pain was gone and I was
so relaxed. Kevin was able to not only obtain tickets (which were
actually in nose bleed section 215), but was able to hook up with his
contact with BGP and obtain us crew all access (except for artist
dressings rooms) backstage passes and escorted us to a private box on
the floor about half way back on the side. I was elated! (by the way it
was a penalty box and several people asked us how we got those seats and
I just told them we were punished) We were seated adjacent to another
(hockey team box) which was designated for the hearing impaired with a
translator. I caught myself watching the interpreters alot and following
along so to speak and it gave me many new perspectives which I am still
downloading and filing. To say that I was totally floored by her song
selection is an understatement, but then Joni is the WordMaster. I would
have loved to hear Two Grey Rooms and Chinese Cafe on Piano, but it was
not to be this time. I went up to the fourth row during Amelia and
Hejira and was able to see her very well and she looked so good and
seemed to be having a real good time (despite her nervousness, et al).
We got to say hello to Brian and talk with him for awhile. A friend of
his took us in San Fran for lunch and cocktails and he was disappointed
she did not come to the show. Kevs' contact did tell us that
Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and Bonnie Raitt were in attendance back
stage (altho we didn't see them). We did see Larry go flying by at one
point. I tried very hard to find Wally, but everyone I asked didn't know
him and I didn't have that handy wanted poster from the post office.
Wally I really would have loved to meet you, but we'll do it again
perhaps, during her upcoming world tour (didn't want to leave anyone out
I tend to love the obscure, different, unexpected..., but when she
played Woodstock I was so glad she did. It was the best performance of
the song I have heard to date. If indeed you are a JMDL and Cafe
stalker, I urge you to "just go girl" , "any old thing you choose", just
keep playing. Well I am starting to blither and take up way to much
bandwidth, but wanted to share a little of the feelings and happenings
in my camp. Looking forward to the future again.
JULIE: Can you stand just one more?
Best Overall Moment -- Do I need to say it? "Ladies and Gentlemen,
please welcome....Joni Mitchell..."
Best Joni Musical Moment -- Tie: "Slouching into Bethlehem" and "Amelia"
(purely subjective, there were so many great moments)
Best Non-Joni Musical Moment -- Van's tribute to James Brown (It's a
Man's Man's etc World), especially Brian Kennedy's verse.
Best Joni Wardrobe Accessory -- Joni's shoes! They were cool.
Best Dylan Imitation -- Joni's was great, and funny, but this has to go
the man himself, who was smokin'. He seems reborn; he tore through his
set, and looked like a kid again. Van and Bob were truly icing on the
magnificent Joni cake.
Most Interesting Distraction -- The guy who was signing the lyrics for
the hearing impaired. Betcha _he's_ got an English degree. It was
bizarre, and poetic, and captivating. (My hubby wanted to know, "How did
he, like, mumble the the Dylan lyrics?")
Best Tour Item on Sale -- The Joni stuff was cool, but as a keepsake of
this particular concert, I would have to say the poster, definitely.
(Sure wish I had one...)
Biggest Disappointment -- Didn't meet any JMDLers. We didn't make
Eulipia, and much to my surprise, you didn't stand out in the crowd;
somehow I thought it would be easy to find you, that you would be
floating, or glowing, or something (I'm sure you were, I was...)
Most Rewarding Moment -- After Joni's set, when the Dylan fan next to me
stared at the stage in awe and told me that he'd gained a whole new
respect for her. He wanted to know all about her recent music and her
guitar and her band...(I told him, of course.)
You LA people are in for a huge treat...She is queen....well, you know
MAGGIE: Hi all,
I'm back in Cambridge, Mass. and just wanted to throw in my $.02 re: San
Joni's performance exceeded my expectations, and given my excitement at the
prospect of seeing her that says a lot. Her voice, playing and presence
were in great form, and she played with heart, soul and integrity. I had
goosebumps, I held back tears, and I was delighted and bursting with pride.
My seats were also in the penalty box, with terrific site lines and great
legroom. One of my companions had a photo pass, and I am hopeful for great
pics. She was cursing the red-lights-on-Joni-in-red effect during the
first-two-song window of opportunity, but with any luck the few moments of
better light will provide great momentous of the performance.
One of my biggest surprises and favorite moments was her performance of
Slouching. I mean, I knew from the postings that she had chosen to perform
it, but I swear it sent me through the rafters -- her vocals/yowling at the
appropriate spot gave me goosebumps on my goosebumps.
Her band was ace. Brian Blade was very tasteful, and Larry was
soooooooooooo soulful in his bass playing. The slide guitar was also a
real plus. They enhanced, and yet when she played solo they were not missed.
The folks who sat in my area were mostly very respectful, some even
exuberant. It is my hope that her exposure to the Dylan/Van crowd will
garner her some fans for the release for TTT. When her set was over my
brother the jaded music biz pro turned to me, hand extended, and said
something like, "Congratulations. You came a very long way for a very
special performance." He got it. I was thrilled. Still am.
To those of you who could not be there, I wish for you future
opportunities. For those of you who were, sorry I didn't see you (nope,
not a one). For those with shows still to come, rejoice!
What can I say about Joni's performance that hasn't already been so
eloquently written? What different superlatives can I pull out of my
pocket thesaurus to re-state the obvious?
I don't know, but my name is Mary Grace, I went to San Jose and this is
I was thrilled to not only be seeing her again after 15 years, but to be
seeing her in the company of fellow Joniphiles. Incredibly happy to finally
meet up with one of my favorite list members and thrilled to be able to
watch the show with two JMDL'ers who have become such a loving
and important part of my life.
Song enough for any heart and yet, within minutes of her first song,
"Night Ride Home," wave after wave of melancholy washed over me.
What was going on? I had terrific seats. I had two friends that I loved by
my side. Her voice was in wonderful shape. I had waited so long and
now to fight through this ache.
Clear as a bell, I heard, "I love the man beside me." And the connection
hit. I was not only listening and watching her perform, she was also
casting a spell over me and hitting the my most vulnerable feelings.
Suddenly, I was 16 again and locked up in my bedroom, headphones
"I love the man beside me, we love the open road...." And I listened and
my heart heard and I wished with all the power of new falling stars and
shiny pennies that the man I loved was beside me for this.
I can still see her now as I type this out. Everyone has said how radiant
she was and that is absolutely true. This writing is slow going. Piles of
work on either side of me. Red light flashing on my voicemail. Even the
memory of this show is enough to send me drifting off to marvel anew at
what she did that night.
Into the "Crazy Cries of Love," and the pull tugged harder. "no paper thin
walls, no folks above, no one else can hear the crazy cries of love." My
heart was bruising at this point. How could she get up on that stage and
pick the very song that has been playing in my mind seemingly forever?
And my heart cried and no one else could hear.
It was almost unfair that she did "Harry's House" next. Another song of
longing for what was not or what could be. Another perfect match for
my melancholy which at that point I just let burn its flame and sat back to
let her music wash over me.
"Harry's House," "Slouching," "Just Like This Train," "Black Crow" Joni is
an interesting performer. You can see her feeling the rhythm of the
music with her sways. Whereas Van was stoic and still, emitting only
through his vocals, Joni swayed from her hips with a movement that
was a natural response to the music.
"Amelia" rustled up my melancholy even more. One of the most poignant
lines I've ever heard are "....it's so hard to obey, his sad request of me to
kindly stay away. So this is how I hide the hurt...." I marveled at how she
could sing that song, project all that longing and pain and still have the
emotional energy to go on.
Frankly, "Big Yellow Taxi" left me underwhelmed. She adjusted for
inflation by "charging all the people twenty bucks just to see 'em," and
the crowd went wild as if it was the wittiest thing they ever heard. An
annoying reaction and her overall staccato delivery did not work well
with the song, in my opinion.
For me, the Big surprise was "Sex Kills." I found it a so-so song on TI,
and so was completely unprepared for the live version. It was great and
it reminded me of the "WWRF" tour version of "Banquet." The band kicked
in and it was really, really good.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was the best concert I've attended in
years. John Miller disagreed with the review of in the SF Chronicle, but in
many ways, it hit the nail on the head. Her music IS difficult. It seemed to
me that at times, her VG8 overpowered the song. You do need to pay
attention and her work is what she wants it to be, not what the market
dictates that it wants. Which does not always make for glowing reviews.
And the ethereal and intellectual quality of her performance was heavily
sideswiped by Dylan's performance, which was absolutely incredible.
All in all, it was an unforgettable show and I've got my heart in a sling
now, hoping for a quick recovery.....
Thanks for the great review. Funny that you should entitle it with "no
real new revelations", because it was chock full of them for me. The
personal experience is what makes it move from ethereal to real for me -
how it moved you and how it all felt. With these personal reviews, I
get a better sense of what was going on, seeing and feeling through
others. Dylan got everybody up, dancing and smiling, but he didn't get
anyone thinking, believing, crying, or feeling, at least not in the
sense you were feeling Joni's show. That's how it was for me, too.
Tough to put it into words, especially to do so quickly, while trying to
pretend to be working and hoping that no one walks in and asks what
you're doing - "It's so hard to explain"
I really agree with what you said about Big Yellow Taxi. I'm glad it
came at the end of the Vancouver show. It caused people to stand and
cheer, which was great for Joni and made her happy I'm sure, but,
because it was at the end, we got to enjoy the rest of her show, the
real show - "No Jukes" - without being distracted or, as you said,
As I said a couple days ago, I, too, felt a new power in 'Sex Kills'.
Somehow it has never had that before, especially when she played it
acoustically and with no band, as she does several times on the Tape
As for your 'recovery', if it is anything like mine, it will be slow,
but not painful - the magic just keeps on flowing.
MARY GRACE: Brett wrote: Dylan got everybody up,
dancing and smiling, but he didn't get
anyone thinking, believing, crying, or feeling, at least not in the
sense you were feeling Joni's show.
This was a final piece to my puzzle. I've told a number of people that
Joni's whole set left me underwhelmed and I couldn't figure it out. Was it
from missed expectations? My hearing? The acoustics? Lost magic?
Thankfully, it was none of the above. I think that Joni was an oddball
addition to the line up. As Brett pointed out, Dylan got them moving, but
Joni got us feeling and thinking. I believe that a good deal of my
dissatisfaction came from the juxtapose of Joni's music on Dylan's
straight ahead rock and roll. Both terrific, yet so so different. It was like
eating caviar and fresh peanut butter.
Pass the tums, please!
It's taken me several days to come down to earth following the San Jose
concert. Due to Wally Breese's incredible generosity and faith in me, I
was able to watch Joni's entire set from the photographer's pit. Wally
his All Access Pass so that I could take photos of Joni - I wound up shooting
about 5 rolls.
What can I say about her presence, her integrity, her artistry, her still
I would have given up Van and Bob for three sets of Joni - without a doubt. I
hung onto every note... it was obvious to me that Joni puts every degree of
her heart and soul into performance - like a spirit coming forth.
She was soulful. She was vulnerable. She was powerful.
I felt like I was sitting at the feet of the goddess of art and wisdom.
I was very touched by Larry Klein and Brian Blade - their smiles were
beautiful, constant and sincere.
I'd like to add that Wally's friend, Carl was also taking photographs.
When I ran out of film, he reached into his pocket and handed me another
roll - again and again. He kept asking me, "Are you all right?" I'm sure
I appeared glazed over, in an altered state of consciousness. My answer,
each and every time, "Much More Than All Right."
I'll be sharing my prints with the Southern California JMDLers next weekend
when Steve (my husband) and I meet with Steve Dulson, et al.
You know what they say about photos and words...
The critical reviews - they didn't deserve to be in the audience, and
obviously are too self-absorbed to get it. Joni's music requires an open
heart and an open mind.
I am so grateful - and hope her management responds to the requests for an
East Coast appearance.