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From JM.com's Official Reporters Marian Russell and Terry Matlen
FROM TERRY MATLEN:
I had the advantage of seeing the set in the 6th row, close to center. The sound system was perfect! Joni later said that her sound man was very pleased with the acoustics that night. There was supposed to have been a 40 minute break before her set, but she came swinging in about 10 minutes earlier and went right into her first song. Joni seemed serious and introspective in the beginning, playing solo, with little body movement or eye contact, and no chitter chatter to the audience. The crowd was well behaved, in general, and seemed intent on giving her their full attention. I got the sense that there was a general good feel to the crowd, and tremendous respect towards Joni's set. Plenty of woops, hollers and whistles cracked in the air after each song, but the folks settled down quickly in order to hear the next one.
The show began with the expected BYT. Joni was well rehearsed with this number, as it's been on the set list since May. The *wink-wink* Dylan impersonation was well received by the crowd. I think she could do this one in her sleep.
Just like this train was done to perfection. With each slap of the guitar strings you could feel Joni becoming more confident.
The band entered for Night Ride Home and sounded tight. Joni started to sway while singing, and you could see how wonderful she looked in her long, fitted tunic top and matching skirt. Both were a burgandy-garnet color, with rust-toned stems running through with sparkling gold thread. What a site, Joni in her autumnal finest. Her shoes were a neutral beige, wide strapped sandal. Her hair, parted down the middle, fell softly just below her shoulders, with a bit of cascaded soft curls at the bottom. She was radiant and beautiful.
Crazy Cries of Love was belted out and swung right into Free Man. The band was rocking and the crowd really started to get into the set.
Harry's House began slowly, but Chris Botti showed why he was chosen to replace Mark Isham on tour. His horn was thrilling to listen to. Again, no Centerpiece.
Joni then lit into a fast-paced rendition of Black Crow. The pounding bass almost made you visualize the crows beating wings.
At this point Joni stopped to talk about Ameila and Hejira. It was a nice change of pace which led into these beautiful songs. The steel guitar seeped in as if it were weeping. Brian's sticks were traded for brushes.
On completion of Amelia and Hejira, she thanked the audience and reminded them that she used to live in Detroit. She said that she had a few old friends in the crowd tonight, and that the next number was one that they had been practicing and she decided to add for us Detroiters.
The strumming began, only to have Joni stop. She mumbled an apology to the crowd, stared Brian Blade directly in the eyes, and started again. This strumming went on for a good two minutes without her beginning to sing then Brian got out his brushes and quietly picked up the beat. Joni nodded to him and the whole band kicked into Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. At this point, Larry flashed a couple of smiles her way. What more can I say?
Happiness came next, and the audience seemed a bit distracted at the new material. She gave a sultry emphasis to "she regrets that now" . This song was gorgeous, with Joni making the VG8 ringing clear as a bell. It was at this point that the woman in the crowd caught and held Joni's attention. She chided the woman when the song was complete, walking straight up to the edge of the stage, bending down, asking if she was o.k., or if something was wrong. "There's a critic in the front row", and to her: "enjoy yourself"! Joni then jokingly commented that she felt "like a race horse that can't run in the rain." Once the woman was singled out, she raised her fists as if cheering in her first high school game, and Joni continued her set with Sex Kills. Ironic? I think so. Either the mix of the set is making folks loose interest, or they have decided to put a ringer in the audience to get Joan pumped up for the second half of her set.
Magdalene Laundries was performed in the most sorrowful way that I have heard it to date. It brought tears to my eyes when she was singing. She did her usual intro to the song (those of you who have any of the tape tree concerts know what I mean) but sang with such feeling. Truly remarkable.
Moon at the Window was so jazzy. It was like watching a sport in slow motion. Everything just flowed. Brian Blade was excellent here, going from brushes to sticks to beating the drum like the folks did at the Pittsburgh fest. Joni really began grooving to the music at this point, using her hands to emphasis the lyrics. The band was introduced (I think???) after this song.
At this point Joni put down her guitar and said, "I'm going to do a little Motown for you" and proceeded to wow the crowd with Trouble Man. What can I say? It was SMOKING! SIZZLING! It just wowed me.
Comes Love was dripping wet sexy. She lit up a cig, took a step back, and held her hand under her elbow while taking a few deep puffs. She gave it her all, belting this one out. She *needs* to record the album of standards. Some in the crowd got lost with the old, slow Gershwin tune, but others saw and heard the heat and went crazy.
We clapped and stomped until Joni came back out with her guitar. She began to strum the opening chords of her encore when some yahoo yelled out "Play Woodstock" and she laughed, "This is Woodstock!".
Joni's set list:
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Night Ride Home
The Crazy Cries Of Love
Free Man In Paris
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
The Magdalene Laundries
Moon At The Window
FROM TERRY MATLEN:
It has been 17 days since our encounter with Joni in Detroit and I'm trying hard to remember every detail of the two meetings our group had with her in the Townsend Hotel, in Birmingham, Michigan.
Lady luck was looking down on us when we found Joni in the lobby, ready to leave for her soundcheck. There were 10 of us jmdler's (me, Amy, Robbert, Sue, Marian and her sister Jennifer, Jim, Jeanne, Mary, and Kelly) who had met at the Townsend for a pre and post concert party. We were a lively bunch up in our room, but the minute we realized that SIQUOMB herself had just breezed by, behind the potted palms, everyone just froze.
Realizing that our chance of a lifetime was about to be dashed, I called out her name and waved to her, prompting the rest of us to quietly surround her and exclaim how thrilled we were that she was back touring. Robbert had left a note at the hotel for Joni the night before, and when I explained that we were from "Wally's Website", she immediately relaxed and asked which one of us was Robbert. She acknowledged his note, saying she'd shared it with the rest of the band, grateful for his kind words about her earlier concert in Chicago which Robbert had attended. What a gracious, classy woman! She was warm, sweet and happy to chat with us.
Some of us had books and CDs with us and Joni graciously autographed them for us, spending about 10 minutes chatting with us about the earlier concerts and how the hecklers had gotten to her. It was at this point that Robbert pulled out his camera and asked me to take a couple of pictures with him and Joni. Obliging, I then asked him to shoot one of Joni and I. This is the photo Robbert took and you can see that I'm still in complete shock that I was standing next to the person who had such an impact on my life. Robbert proceeded to take a picture of Amy and then it was time for Joni to leave.
I reminded her that her fans were able to access info about her and join together worldwide, thanks to Wally's Website on JM.COM; she was noticeably pleased. I also want to publicly thank Wally for the privilege of covering the show for his Website. It truly was a dream come true.
FROM MARIAN RUSSELL:
Within a few seconds of the the house lights going out, I heard "Ladies and gentlemen ... please welcome ... Joni Mitchell!" Joni came out on the stage as everyone applauded and cheered enthusiastically, and she seemed to really appreciate that - she was smiling and she nodded forward gracefully a few times.
The first song, Big Yellow Taxi, was greeted with the typical delayed response from the crowd. It's surprising to me that people don't recognize this song immediately! But anyway, I think this is a great intro song for capturing the attention of folks who aren't familiar with her more recent music music.
The crowd seemed always very quiet and respectful. My sister, who was sitting in the center section of the floor, said that even people around and behind her were listening attentively and cheering enthusiastically after every song. Even the one person in the first row directly in front of Joni turned out to be an enthusiastic fan after Joni questioned her about why she was looking so unhappy. Joni had thought this woman was a critic and she was so distracted by her sour face that she interrupted Sex Kills to ask her what was wrong, at which point the woman smiled and started cheering for Joni. When Joni returned to the mike she said, "I guess I'm just like a race horse that can't run in the rain", and proceded to deliver a blistering version of Sex Kills.
Joni's singing was always clear, strong and flawless. She seemed really *on* and looked very beautiful in her wine-colored, close-fitting outfit. When the stage lights behind her were bright, she looked positively angelic with her halo of golden hair! She radiated beauty and warmth and sang every song with her whole heart. In many songs, she added nuances of grace notes and slightly different melodic phrasings. Not only is she a great composer, but she is also really inside of every song and creating during the performance - allowing her melodic imagination free reign during the delivery. There were times when I sat there just going "YES!" Oh, how I wish I had a recording of this concert, just so I could remember those really beautiful musical moments that are now somewhere out there in the universe of sound.
When Joni played the first verse of Hejira, I burst into tears. I don't know why. This song really moved me more than any other. It seemed her heart was even more in this one than in the others she had played, if that was possible.
It was great to hear Don Juan's Reckless Daughter live. She said "I'm going to do a new one now" and asked us to be patient for a few moments. At first I thought, "Oh my god! A new song!", until I recognized the chords to DJRD. She took some time getting into it and when she finally did - Wow! It really rocked and her whole band was so in tune with her.
Speaking of the band, all of them paid attention all of the time and every song was really tight. Brian Blade especially was totally attentive to Joni and always looked like he was having a wonderful time. The band was like a unified organism - sometimes real animated - other times real quiet - but always aware of itself as a whole - always integrated and flowing - always sensitive to Joni's lead.
Joni's delivery of Moon at the Window was very interesting, because at certain points in the song she actually took her right hand from the guitar to emphasize the singing - as if the guitar was not there. She opened her palm toward the audience and extended her arm downwards from the guitar. This song was a perfect prelude to Trouble Man and Comes Love. The crowd went absolutely wild when she did these. I think most people were totally astonished by these last songs of Joni's set. They were standing and cheering for Joni before the band even finished playing Comes Love!
My sister said that the whole floor was standing and cheering for Joni as she left the stage and she didn't make us wait long for the encore! Less than one minute! She came out and was starting to play Woodstock and someone yelled "Play Woodstock, Joni!" And she said "That's what I'm doing!" It was beautiful and the crowd was very appreciative.
It was a fabulous concert - an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am very grateful to Wally Breese, to Terry Matlen and the Detroit people, to my husband and family, to my sister, and to Joni and the universe for the gift of this incredible experience! It was truly a blessing to have been there!
REPORTS FROM THE INTERNET COMMUNITY
(From:email@example.com)-The concert was great! Joni played very well, although it did seem that she was a little bit nervous. She played all of the songs that she has played at her concerts throughout this year. She did good, but I liked " A Day in the Garden" so much better. This seemed way too much like just a routine, rather than something she really wanted to do. But I guess this is to be expected because the concert in NY was a one day thing, and this is a constant drain on her creativity and enthusiasm. But whatever, she still did great! I especially liked it when, during "comes love" she stopped and had a cigarette during the music interlude and then continued to sing holding it, it was so JONI-LIKE! I think she especially did good in with the songs from her new album, like "The Crazy Cries of Love." It was so cool to hear her play that her guitar! She also did wonderfully with "Harry's House." I love it when she really belts the notes out! It's incredible!
I do have a few complaints however. The first one is in response to the ongoing problem of respect to her performance. Once again, she had to deal with this annoyance ( although not as bad as in the previous concerts). I think it is HORRIBLE that these people are so immature and disrespectful to be so rude as to express their impatience with her performance. THEY HAVE NO CLASS and obviously NO FEELINGS, and should not be allowed to remain at the concerts. I think that once they start acting up, security should kick their asses out!!!!!!!!!! SHE DESERVES RESPECT WHETHER YOU LIKE HER MUSIC OR NOT! It makes me so mad that people think they can act anyway they feel like! I hope to God that it didn't discourage her or make her think that we didn't want to hear her play!
Another thing is that I think that they should acknowledge the base player more often. Throughout the concert, they kept putting the spotlight on the trumpet player. Although he did a great job, the other musicians, especially the base player, should get some recognition too!
My last complaint is in regard to the merchandise that was on sale. They had t-shirts, and these "lithographs" that were $75 normal and $150 signed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am only a college student, and I barely had the money to buy the tickets to the concert. I think that $75 for a POSTER is outrageous! My knowledge and belief of Joni is that she is against big business and capitalism!! I don't understand how she can agree to this. I really wanted to get that poster, but it was impossible.
Other than that, the concert was great. She played wonderful, as usual. I hope that she has another tour soon!
Jennifer Mc Call
Like the Light
So strong, so sexy
you are like the light
gold and fragmented
whole beyond touch
within the body
flying on blood
dancing in rhythm
I know you
in my thought, heart
my words, walk little steps
to your words and step back.
You are the diva
the one who speaks
and we turn to it
swim in it
feel it, go back to it
fall into the darkness
arrive in spring.
Spring, and you in red
in music, in the source
which is holding us all
in soft hands
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-What can be said of my first time seeing this wonderful lady. Well, maybe that's the wrong word already given the banter about her stage presense lately. My thoughts on that, to get them out of the way early, are:
Joni's first comments say it all, "I'm glad to be here. I really am!"
We're too consumed in the new media people!! The moments before "Sex Kills" were filled with negative anticipation, tension. Earlier songs and hopes of what songs were to come were forgotten. Her actual words, from a friend I'll just call D6:
"hurried start/tuning. brief applause. I appreciate the support. I got a critic in the front row, right in my eyeball. It makes it tricky. joni's laugh, worth a thousand words! crowd roars. Thank you. Appreciate it. Ok, ok, there ARE people in the front seats. song starts. Enjoy yourself honey! songs stops after a few bars. Oh, like I'm just a racehorse who can't run in the rain, you know what I mean? Are you ok? Are you enjoying youself? 'cause you're right in my...yeah you. Is it ok for you?
ps. imagine Joni's thought's back to another time when she lights up during "Comes Love". I see a small smoky bar with a cool jazz singer diggin' the scene. Wonder who it could be? Think anyone noticed her light up?
(From:email@example.com)-Being a Joni Mitchell lover for many years (and playing and singing many of her songs in my guitar/folk music phase of long ago), and having never seen her in a live concert, it was a phenomenal experience. I thought she performed very well, watched her through good binoculars almost the entire time, just mesmerized. I agree with the other reviewer, jmccall, that she did seem to be nervous at times. I too was absolutely apalled that some yoyo right in the front could have made any displeasure known to her.
I did feel that the performance was too deep for lot of the folks to get; one got the sense that a bunch of Dylan obsessed folks were there to bogey, and were peeved they had to put up with getting through the 'boring' Joni bit to rock with Bob. After her performance, the very clueless, disparaging comment from the woman behind me was.. does Bob play for the audience? Not just for himself, like Joni did? Oh well, a**h***s are everywhere (although at times it seems the Detroit area has more than its fair share)... I guess it makes sense for the money making concert promoter types to feel they have to 'bundle' the performers to sell a bunch of tickets... but I'm sorry, I think the two of them attract a very different crowd, especially with Bob having presumably 'modernized' his stuff to appeal to the 'younger bunch'. It felt like the logic was ... well, we'll give the women Joni, and the guys Bob, and everybody will be hunky-dory ... like the guys had to put up with that boring women mumbling on about their emotions junk, to get to the party-down stuff they came for. (Of course another problem is that the even most women under 30 don't know much of anything about her music either.)
A Joni only concert would have been FAR more enjoyable, and presumably would not have included so many rude Joni critics, and would have minimized the phenomenon of most of the people in my area blabbing away through much of her performance because they were bored to tears... and mobs trudging up and down the aisle to go get more beer to kill time waiting for Bob. (From my aisle seat in a great section with a fantastic view, for well over half her performance I was staring at an unending wall of moving bodies, that totally obliterated the stage.) I loved Trouble Man and Comes Love. My last comment would be.. especially with a performer like Joni where the words are so critical, the huge concert venue is frustrating because most of her lyrics were simply impossible to understand. I don't know what the solution is... cut back the band volume big time... have 3 mikes on her voice, but unless you were very familiar with her songs, a lot of it was just nice vocal sounds and some mellow instruments, with little meaning. Perhaps if the no-nothings could have actually heard her awesome lyrics they might have gotten some clue as to why she is so fantastic. I found myself wishing she had come out with just her guitar and her voice, and stuffed the whole band bit altogether. I better shut up at this point. I loved seeing her, and will probably again turn into a Joni Mitchell nut after a long vacation from her... and your web site will certainly help me do that! Hell, I may even buy a guitar for Christmas, after selling my last one to pay the rent in 1980...
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-Three days after having my dream come true and seeing Joni in Chicago at the barn they call the United Center, I had the chance to see her again - this time up close. Our Chicago seats were in the last row in the third level in the back corner of the United Center, which was way too big for Joni to be playing. But, since the place was only two-third full (at best), we were able to move much closer to the stage with no problem. We ended up in the second level on the side of the state for Joni. We actually had no trouble getting to the side of the stage in the first level for Dylan, which made me wish we'd tried before Joni went on. But I had my binoculars and the knowledge that I had 10th row seats near the center of the floor at The Palace of Auburn Hills (aka Detroit). æ
Seeing Joni perform twice in a few days ranks as one of (actually two of) the highlights of my life. I only started really listening to her music about five years ago (at age 32) but have been in love with her work since opening my ears to her. She was dressed rather similarly in both shows and did not change the material significantly from Chicago to Detroit, although there were enough changes to make me happy I was given the chance to catch her performing as many different songs as possible. æ
I have read that Joni sometimes may get rattled by something or someone in the crowd and that appeared to be the case in Detroit. Moments after saying "I have a critic in the front row," Joni abrupted halted Sex Kills just seconds into the tune. She went near the edge of the stage and leaned over and asked him or her if they were having a good time. She repeated the question then said, "Oh, now I'm cool." She then resumed the song without incident. I didn't catch what the "critic" did to upset her but something was happening that I couldn't see from the 10th row. æ
It seemed to me she had a better time playing at The Palace than she did in Chicago. That could be because, as she told the sparse crowd (there were reportedly only 9,000 seats sold (for an arena which seats approximately 20,000 - that's a guess) as late as one day before the concert, she used to live in Detroit for a time and still has friends here. According to reports I've seen at this site, her Chicago show last about 75 minutes, which seems about right, although I did not time it. She played for about 85 minutes in Detroit, according to a review in Thursday's Flint Journal which praised the performances by both Joni and Bob Dylan. That may not seem like much more, but I cherish every extra minute Joni will give us. æ
She was wonderful. æ
(From:email@example.com)-I am a long time fan of Joni's, but this was my first opportunity to share a live moment with her. Perhaps sharing a stage with Dylan in such a large arena wasn't the ideal setting for this rare gem. The opening band was so loud, the accoustics so bad, I had to buy ear plugs, hoping to save my eardrums for Joni. By the time Joni took the stage, starting with 'Big Yellow Taxi' the Dylan fans were already drunk and disorderly, the people surrounding us made it almost impossible to hear her. I was so glad when she stopped singing to talk to a Dylan fan in the front who was being obnoxious, she said she felt like a 'racehorse running in the rain'. After that confrontation she came back stronger and more vibrant than ever. As much as I enjoy her early work (which she only touched briefly), the evolution of her music and lyrics over time has so much paralleled my life I felt a timeless bond, that's Joni. She was the human embodiment of heaven on that stage and continues to age to an unsurpassed vintage. I hope she isn't too disappointed to come back to Detroit. Maybe next time we could get her in a more intimate setting like the Chrysler Theatre in Windsor ?
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-I went to the concert at the palace in suburban Detroit. I really enjoyed it, this was my only Joni concert that I've ever seen. I,ve been liking her music scince I can remember and to finally see her "what a treat!" I wasn't a Dylan fan ever, but his performance with all his "fun mistakes" made me change my mind on him. He definitely rocked! I was really impressed with his band and sound and yes including Joni's. This show ranks with my all time great concerts! To all those nay-sayers who wank about those most silliest,littliest, and pettiest things that only annoys them, well keep their opinions to themselves. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything. Performers are human! what ever happens at their shows, well it happens. So if a performer doesn't do what a spoiled audience member wanted that JUST too,too bad. One wish that if Joni and Dylan could've got together and did any song what a great topper to one good night that would've been. I hope Joni will tour in the years to come, I will definitely be there. Forever a Joni fan and Dylan too!
P.S I used to live a street away in Detroit,(on West Canfield) where Joni used to live and to this day people mention about when Joni use to live in the apt. nearby (mostly the college art folks who remembers that area when it was a artist community).
(From:SONDO@aol.com)-I saw Joni at the Palace in Detroit 10/28. It was only half-full, which was sad (but parking was great!) Sat in the front row. She sounded great. Played the same setlist which has been published here. Like many people, I love her old stuff and was a little disappointed (though not surprised) that she didn't play much of it, and when she did, she seemed to streamline it and rush through. Joni said in a newspaper interview that she never really considered herself a folk- singer, that's just what she happened to start with because it was easy "pin money" back in the '60s. Her roots have always been more into jazz.
But Joni...I'm sure you cashed the checks from all the album sales in those days. They paid for alot of boxes of paint. Those checks came from us...and sorry but we still love all that stuff. By belittling the interests of your audience, the "politics" of the music industry, and your own wonderful lyrics and songs from those days...well, I think it hurts...something is missing.
At one point Joni sang a song from Taming, and then walked around in front of the mike and asked, "Did you like that? Do you like ME?" She seemed genuinely interested. Of course, we responded with a resounding WE LOVE YOU JONI and we do. But if you're seeking acceptance and constructive criticism...
What's the deal with that new guitar? Okay it sounds great at first...a beautiful haunting wall-of-sound feel. Very versatile background...certainly easy for her to tune...and she strum til her heart's content.
But what other performer would go with the same instrument, same general sound, same dominant "wall" behind each of her 12 or so songs? No picking, no wailing, no acoustic, no dulcimer...seems kind of same, kind of easy. Doesn't art include innovation and stimulation?
The instrumentation starts to fade in interest, leaving of course her beautiful voice. It sounded clear and deep and rich as ever. Sound seems to resonate inside of her. I guess that's the bottom line: You talk about Joni in 1998 and you talk about her great voice, and her great history.
(From:SONDO@aol.com)-The "critic" in the front row of the Oct. 28 Detroit concert was my wife.
I have been a Joni fan since the '70s. I own eight or 10 of her albums, including Hissing, Indigo and Taming...but I must admit I listen more often to Seagull, Blue and Court & Spark. My wife has learned of Joni through what she's heard on the radio and in my car. There's nothing wrong with that. She likes Joni, respects her as one of our alltime greats, and was looking forward to hearing the concert from fantastic seats with me and our friends.
We loved the concert. But some of Joni's newer material is "less accessible," as they say. It was probably during "Happiness Is the Best Facelift" that my wife said she may have looked "pensive"...sorting through those provocative new lyrics.
Now it's anyone's guess as to why Joni would interrupt a performance in front of over 10,000 people to walk to the front of the stage and confront my wife. Why she needed to know if this one kind-hearted and well-meaning individual was "having a good time"...while hundreds of Dylan fans drank beer and smoked cigarettes in the concourse. My wife deserves credit for disarming the situation by cheering and responding, "We love you!," so that Joni would go back and play.
Joni continually reminds us that she's an "artist" and that she can sing what she wants. Well, we're listeners, fans, critics, CD buyers and her sponsors...we too can do whatever we want. Being pensive...or even "critical"...falls far short of being rude or distracting. We were there to relax, have some fun and listen to Joni Mitchell.
Now to my personal reactions: Joni's voice was wonderful. I think when you talk about Joni in the '90s it's all about her voice, her lyrics and her history. She said in the Oct. 28 Detroit Free Press that she never considered herself a folksinger, she wrote those old songs in the '60s because it was the "easiest way to make some pin money." Well, lucky for us that we were needed in those days! I enjoyed the concert thoroughly although I would have liked to hear a little more variety...some acoustical instrumentation, a change-of- pace, some energy...those incredible classic lyrics..."folk music" or what every you want to call it. I'd call it my favorite Joni.
(From:email@example.com)-Wally, first of all, I want to say thank you for this incredible web site and all of your hard work on behalf on Joni, her music, and her fans! I have been a fan since her first albums came out, and I strongly identify my adolescent years with her poetry and music. I have loved listening to her development as a writer and musician, and have seen her perform twice before, both times in the NY area, ages ago. It was with considerable excitement (understatement of the year!) that I heard through your website of the concert in Detroit (it wasn't publicized at all at the U of M, where I am now a graduate student). So I am doubly grateful!
My impressions right after I got home from the concert were as follows: Wed, Oct 28, 1998 What an incredible evening at the Palace. It's 1:30am and I just had to write about how fabulous this concert was. The set list was the same as previous concerts, although Joni did Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (fabulous with Brian Blade!!! I want a recording!!!) and Moon at the Window, plus the Woodstock encore. The band was very tight! Although it seemed from up in the balcony that there were some sound problems during Free Man in Paris, Joni's voice was clear and rich through every song. I especially loved Black Crow and Hejira (it made me cry, those lyrics get me every time!) I have to say, the surprise ending with Trouble Man and Comes Love was spectacular too. There was some heckling or something from the first row, and at one point it seemed Joni was going to get down off the stage and let this person have it! But then she said, "We're cool" and launched into "Sex Kills." My friend overheard on the line for the bathroom that the problem was with a critic who hadn't written anything on her pad of paper and I guess was distracting Joni. It was an unforgettable performance and I was very moved!
So that was what I thought at 1:30am. But what I wanted to say now is that the concert, the experience of hearing Joni's voice live after all these years, has been resonating inside me ever since. I am so pleased to know that I am not alone in my adoration of this woman and her music and poetry. I hope that My Best to You on TTT is not a farewell song of sorts. That was my first impression when I heard it. Joni, your devoted fans are waiting with baited breath for another CD, another concert, as I am sure the best is yet to come!
1st Set: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men
2nd Set: Joni Mitchell
3rd Set: Bob Dylan
We are sitting here at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan after just
meeting up with JONI in the lobby. What can I say, my knees are still
trembling. It was time to check to see if our airport contingent had arrived.
They were waiting for us patiently and after introductions were given, we
began to pick up bags and head to the elevator. At that moment the door of
the elevator opened and who was standing in it? SIQUOMB herself, on her way
to a sound check. I saw her and my jaw dropped. I couldn't say anything, so
I slapped Amy on the arm. She quickly darted around the potted palm and at
the same instant Terry spotted Joni.
She calmly said "Hi, Joni!" and that is when the fun began. Robbert, who had
seen the Indy show and witnessed Joni's reaction to a rude audience member
decided to drive from Indy straight to the Townsend to drop a lovely note to
the concierge to give to Joni. She looked at Jim and said "Are you Robbert?"
and he said yes, only to have the real Robbert step up and say hello.
She relayed to Robbert the fact that she had shared the note with her band
mates and they really appreciated the positive feedback. Terry told Joni
thanks for touring again, and she replied that she is enjoying being out on
the road with Bob and her band. Robbert asked if her could have his picture
taken with her, and she complied. After that Terry stepped up and had her
photo taken too.
We were hovering around the foyer area of the Lobby. Present were Marian, her
sister Jennifer, Mary P., Jim, Amy, Kelly, Jeanne, Terry, Robbert and me. We
closed in around her and Amy asked if she would sign our books. We had taken
the dust covers off as we were signing each other's books. Joni asked Amy
"What is this I am signing?" and Amy replied "This is your book of Poems and
Lyrics, Joni." She autographed Marian, Amy, and my books graciously.
At this point the thug in the lobby decided that our gathering was drawing too
much attention, so Joni eased over to the side lobby where the cushy chairs
were. Amy was talking with Joni about her birth name being Amelia and that
she was given up for adoption. Standing by listening were Mary P., Terry, and
Marian. Thug junior approached me and Jeanne and asked what we were doing.
Of course we had luggage as we were just checking in, so we told him that.
Shortly after the thugs descended, Joni eased her way to the door. Terry told
her that she would be taking pictures of her tonight at the concert for Wally
and the web page. She told Terry that she would look for her bobbing head.
Well, do you want to know what she was wearing? A small chocolate brown
cap with a brown leather jacket hanging over a olive green shin length skirt
with brown tights and brown clogs. Slung across her left shoulder was a
medium sized knitted sachel. Her height? A bit shorter than Terry, so we are
thinking about 5' 6".
She looked well rested and not at all unhappy to see some true fans.
What an experience. Some quotes now from the crowd.
Joni said about the audience members who were making so much noise:
"I tried to avoid them by looking to the left and right, but when they started
to mimic my actions, 'the wrath of Joan' descended on them." Later on she felt
bad about things and thought maybe they were fans so she smiled at the woman
as she left the stage. She mouthed an apology, smiled, and the woman lit up.
When Terry told Joni that she was taking pictures for the web site, Joni asked
"What is your connection to Wally's website?" Terry replied that we were all
fans and had traveled far and wide to see her in concert tonight.
Terry told Joni that Marian was her greatest fan. Marian gushed "I love your
music, I love you, Joni."
Jeanne's quote about the experience? "Oh my God, oh my God!!!"
Mary appreciated the fact that she didn't take the three o'clock flight into
Detroit, as we would have missed the chance encounter with Joni. We want to
thank Mary for taking the 2:10!
Marian's sister Jennifer couldn't believe that they had the good fortune to
have decided to wait for us in the lobby rather than heading up to the room.
We told Joni that she could join us after the concert if she wanted. We told
her we were in room 329. When we got back to the room, guess what time it
was... 3:29!!!! Synchronicity!
Robbert's last thought about this great chance encounter: "I died and went to
So I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to start this e-mail, and I think
I've finally got it...........
I met Joni Mitchell! I met Joni! I met Joni! I met Joni! I met Joni!!!!!
I guess that covers it. I mentioned before that I'm the jazz buyer for the
Borders chain and that my Warner/Reprise rep (a wonderful guy and huge Joni
fan himself) was doing his darndest to get me backstage. Well he called me
this morning and said it looked good, that there was a 90% chance that I would
get to meet her. The way he put it was: "If she has a good set, she'll want
to share it with people backstage...but if she gets heckled again, then
chances are really slim." So I spent all day at work bouncing off the walls,
trying hard not to get too excited.
My husband and I left Ann Arbor for Auburn Hills (about a 1 1/4 hours drive),
and got to our seats just in time to get situated and see Dave Alvin. Tim
enjoyed the set, but I was a little too fixated on JONI to think about much of
anything else. I looked around for evidence of other JMDL-ers, but nothing
caught my eye. After Dave Alvin's set, my Warner rep found me and handed me a
backstage pass, warning me again that if Joni wasn't happy with the
performance, that there would probably be no meet and greet. Yikes.
I did run into Jules, a fellow JMDL-er *and* fellow WEMU music host. We've
known each other for years and never knew about the other's Joni obsession.
So Joni comes out, and I can't yell and scream suddenly because I'm choking
up. All I can think is "That's Joni Mitchell!" She sounded and looked
beautiful and confident. I was awestruck.
I did finally find my voice, and unfortunately probably deafened the Dylan
fans in front of me with my yells of appreciation. Maybe I felt like I had to
make up for all the people in the audience who didn't seem all that interested
in what she was doing.
So of course there was a jerk in the front row ("right in my eyeballs" Joni
said) giving her a hard time. Strangely enough, it was right before "Sex
Kills" again that Joni launched into this person. She then started Sex Kills
and had to stop again, saying something like, "I guess I'm a horse who can't
run on a wet track". She spoke some more to the person in the front row, some
of it off-mic (did anyone hear what she said?), then came back to the mic and
said "I'm cool now", and proceeded to launch into a blistering version of Sex
At this point, I'm thinking there's no way she's going to want to meet with
some retail schlubs. I wanted to go jump on whoever was giving her a hard
Then a miracle happened. When Joni put down the guitar and started Trouble
Man, she suddenly won over the whole audience, and the applause was
thunderous. I was looking at her with binoculars from the 25th row so it was
hard to tell, but she looked awfully pleased.
Comes Love was earth shattering for me. I loved it. Then she came back for an
encore of that darned Woodstock song, and it was all over. I kissed my
husband goodbye, and ran off to find the label people.
We all gathered as a group to the right of the stage, and a security guy led
us around to the backstage area. We stood in a little waiting area for about
20 minutes. At one point, a guy came back and let us know that Joni's manager
had arrived, and that might prevent her from meeting with us. My stomach was
doing flip flops at that point.
About 5 minutes later, Joni's manager came back and led us to her dressing
room. On the way there, he warned us that she also had friends back there,
and that we should keep our visit to four minutes maximum. I told him that
was all the time I needed to have a dream come true. He seemed to really dig
So there she was. She apologized for not standing up, but motioned to her
feet and said they were killing her. I waited for the label people to make
the introductions, and when it was my turn, I grabbed her hand and said "I'm
the jazz buyer, and I am a....really big fan", which elicited some laughter
from the other 7 or 8 people in the room since I almost cried when I said
that. I felt like a moron.
I waited for everyone else to be introduced, then presented her with the
booklets for Mingus and Hejira. I told her that they were two of my favorite
records and that I hadn't been able to choose which one to ask her to sign.
She said "Well hell...I'll be happy to sign both of them!"
When she took my Hejira book, she said "Hejira is probably my favorite.
There's a lot of memories in this record." I told her that it's my fave road
trip record, and she reminded me that it was written on a road trip. The
whole time we're talking, all these people are standing around, but Joni is
making constant eye contact with me.
When she took Mingus to sign, she said "I'm glad you like this one - it's
really obscure." I told her that it was the record that really made me fall
in love with her music, and the second I said that, I thought "Dumb jerk - she
didn't write most of the MUSIC on the record!". I think I saved it by
commenting that The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey (one she DID write!) is so
hauntingly beautiful. We talked about what it was like to record that stuff
live with the band, and how infrequently that's done anymore. Then she
started telling me about Henley's Walden benefit ("You know, the Stormy
Weather thing" she said), and how addicted she could get to singing in front
of a 60 piece orchestra. We talked about the arrangement she chose for that,
and how it came from an early Frank Sinatra record ("...but it was too slow so
I picked up the pace a little"). She said she was attracted to the
arrangement because it was "...so simple and Bambi - you know, Disney-like.
Nobody really writes like that anymore, except the guy who does the Fellini
movies - Nino Rota - tips his hat to it occassionally".
Then I asked her if she was really considering an album of standards, citing
the response she got from Comes Love and Trouble Man. She said, "Oh yes - it
can be so freeing to put down the guitar and just sing. I'd really like to do
At this point, Joni bent down and picked up some roses wrapped in cellophane.
"Here," she said, handing them to me, "I want you to have these. They're
beautiful and they're just going to die if I try to take them on the road." I
was flabergasted. I in turn gave her a copy of one of my fave jazz releases
this year (singer Andy Bey's "Shades Of Bey"), and then it was time to go.
In all the years that I have spent wondering what I would ever say to Joni
Mitchell if I were ever lucky enough to meet her (and I spent a lot of time
thinking about that), I never thought that it would go so well, that Joni
would be so interested in talking to me (or that I would have enough wits
about me to put words together!). Maybe she was just being nice, but I felt
like the connection that I sometimes feel with her when I hear her lyrics or
read quotes from her was real - that we were operating on the same plane and
having a meaningful coversation. I can't really express how much that meant
So that's it. My incredible evening of Joni. Please forgive the typos and
grammatical errors. It's late, and I'm just not having a lot of luck paying
attention to details at this point.
Just got back to our hotel room after another chat with Joni at the bar.
YOWEE, pinch me. In attendance were Joni, Larry Klein, some guy we couldn't
identify, me, Robbert, Sue, Amy, Mary.
She was very sweet, and talked a bit about the show (there was another
incident- will get into that in another email), we gave her early birthday
gifts and she was incredibly gracious. But for now, here is the set list. The
woman was smoking!
2. Just Like This Train (these two were solos)
3. Night Ride Home
4. Crazy Cries Of Love
5. Free Man In Paris
6. Harry's House (no Centerpiece)
7. Black Crow
10. Don Juan RD
11. Happiness is the best facelift
12. Sex Kills
13. Magdalene Laundries
14. Moon At The Window
15. Trouble Man'
16. Comes Love
17. Woodstock (encore).
80 minute show- longest show so far! And Joni told us in the bar that she
added an extra song just for us!
Just dragged myself out of bed this morning after an absolulety perfect
day yesterday. Much more than I could have ever hoped for, or really even
dreamed possible. Was it only yesterday that I had not one, but two
conversations with Joni? I have always said that timing is everything in
this life and yesterday was the perfect example...we really did just sort of
stumble on the meet and greet in the lobby with Joni. Had we not gone down
there to pick up the jmdler's arriving from the airport, we would have never
seen her...and I must say, when she walked right past me and I thought, oh
gee, there goes a woman lookin like Joni and then my brain kicked in and
realized that it actually was her...quite a moment. She was lovely, and
gracious and even when security stepped in, she was pleased to move with us
as a group to another spot in the lobby...signing books and having photos
snapped...when this woman speaks with you, the eye contact is incredible,
and suddenly you start blabbering about your entire life story in the space
of 4-5 minutes, at least that is what happened to me. When she turned to
leave my knees actually buckled and I needed to lean against a table in the
lobby..then she was off to her sound check and I thought, well, that was it,
my moment with her, and it was unbelievable.
The concert is another story in itself...I felt like I had 3 out of
body experiences, this being number 2. I had the pleasure of sitting next
to Robbert, who really is the one who was instrumental in making the
original contact with Joni. After hearing her in Indy, and on the way to
our home for an overnight visit, he drove to the Townsend Hotel and left a
gift and a message for Joni with the hotel staff...I will let him tell you
exactly what it said, but since he is on the way to Toronto today,(BTW with
a backstage pass for tonights concert) I will just say that he made mention
of the unruly fan in Indy and that he hoped that she would not let this get
to her, as there are many people who were there just for her music and how
much he was looking forward to seeing her in Detroit...this note and gift
made a very big impression on Joni..she even called her band members and
read them the note! I believe that this was a big boost to her and the set
she gave us proved it...the moment she started amelia was spine tingling for
me and I also loved free man in paris...every song was wonderful and only
one little annoyance from the audience marred her mood. She had the place
in the palm of her hand for trouble man also...siquomb.
Regarding the audience member...she said that this woman was looking at her
with a defiant look, not paying attention, looking down alot and she
believed her to be a critic...she said that she tried to move the mike so
that she would out of her direct line of vision, but it wasnt working. She
said that when she got to Sex Kills, her level of tolerance was up, so she
stepped to the front of the mike, asked if everything was ok, etc...couldn't
hear everything she said, but she told us later that the woman gave her a
big smile and said all was well..gave her good feedback, so joni stepped
back, smiled, and started Sex Kills...the entire concert was lovely and I
was so glad to be next to Robbert...
Out of body experience #3 occured back at the hotel, when we decided to
dash down to the bar and hoping against hope that she might be there...and
she was, sitting at the table next to us, with Larry and 2 other
unindentified men...we were quiet, and reserved, no gushing, no
intrusions...but I did manage to nurse a beer for well over a hour, waiting
for the moment when we could approach and hopefully give her our gifts, etc.
When the waiter brought their bill, (they all had a meal, from my vantage
point, Joni had a big bowl of soup, a salad, some sort of fish with wild
rice and was sipping cranberry juice..and smoking, of course...larry chowed
down on an enormous shrimp cocktail) Robbert said hello again, and she was
all smiles, asking the boys if she could stay for a few moments...they were
very protective of their Joan, so they stayed close. There was no hotel
security there at all..the thugs were off for the night, I guess. She took
our gifts, talked about the concert, explained the whole heckler thing, had
conversations with many of us and it still seems like a blur in my
mind...she shook my hand, and seemed genuinely touched that we made such an
effort. She began to walk down the hallway toward the elevators, we all
sort of trailed after her because there really is only one set of elevators,
so we were going the same way...she told us a lovely little story about a
mockingbird near her old home, sue will share that one with you, and finally
they got on the elevator and the doors shut and we were all standing there
looking like a group of people who just made the connection of a lifetime.
It still seems rather surreal to me...was it only just yesterday?
We also got to enjoy the music of Marian and Terry...what a treat!
Their playing was just wonderful and I wanted to thank them both for the
privledge. We all packed up after a long day and night, and although I was
planning on crashing at the hotel, I decided to run on home and sleep in my
own bed. I just really needed that drive to clear my head and listen to
hejira on my long drive home. Just wish someone had mentioned that it was
3:15 a.m. when I left...i had no idea.
So those of us who shared these moments, my best to you...Terry, Sue,
Robbert, Jim, Jeanne, Mary, Marian, Jennifer, Kelly...you will always be a
part of these memories, and I couldn't imagine a nicer group of folks to
share it with. Safe journeys home everyone...
As some of the Detroit jmdlers are on the road, returning to families or
continuing on to their Joni Hejiras, I thought I'd add a few more tidbits
until I get my final report done.
Some of us (not me) got a 3rd meeting! I'll leave that up to the others to
At dinner at the hotel after the show, Joni enjoyed soup, Cobb salad and an
entre'. She was seated right next to our table but her back was to me. With
her were Larry, one of the band members and a fellow I didn't recognize. Joni
smoked non-stop. This particular bar seemed to draw a peculiar and obnoxious
crowd which Joni at times was studying. One woman was virtually dancing in
front of her, teasing a man she was with and making a complete fool of
herself. At one point, Joni did a great job of mimicking her.
As we were getting up to leave, Joni started to go as well. At that point, we
gave her the birthday gifts we'd been carrying and she seemed truly delighted.
Larry was about out the door, but Joni asked him to wait, and we chatted a
while longer, discussing that night's distraction at the concert (to follow
later). Robbert had a short chat with her (what DID you tell her, Robbert??).
Once we left the room, our group trailed behind, so as not to disturb her.
Joni then dropped dead in her tracks, turned to us and told us a story- "It
reminds me of the Mockingbird. When I lived in Laurel Canyon, there was a
mockingbird that would sing and sing...but whenever a truck came by, it would
just stop". She then turned again and walked into the elevator. There's
probably more to the mockingbird story, but I'm too brain dead to remember.
Before entering the elevator (right guys?), she stopped and surveyed the hotel
lobby. It almost looked like she was taking mental notes, studying colors...?
I get the impression that she takes everything in.
Joni radiates warmth. She looks you straight in the eye while talking as if
she's known you your whole life. She smiles and is animated. You want, no you
NEED to reach out and touch her! She signed autographs, posed for pix and was
very interested in hearing our reactions to her concert. Robbert had said it
was the best of the shows so far, and we shared that with her. She said her
sound man said the same thing. Well, I'm so tired I'm rambling.
Oh, I was also fascinated with her fashion sense. No t's and jeans for this
girl, but the ever present brown leather cap, which looks just great on her.
For the detail oriented: transclusent pearly nail polish; nails longer on
right hand. Looked bluntly cut. Wears rich, earthy colors. Very little makeup,
none on her eyes that I could tell.
Hair parted down middle, just below the shoulder. At the conert, there was
some curl to it only at the bottom, for fullness.
More, after some sleep-
Ben (from the Dylan list):
Hold onto your superlatives ladies and gentleman, Bob and company has rolled
into yet another town, taking it captive.
The evening started off in fine style with David Alvin providing a tremendous
opening set of tight music. He paid homage to the Motor City a few times,
played some tremendous solos and threw in a cover of Guthrie's "Do Re Mi" for
Joni Mitchell stepped out shortly thereafter, opening with "Big Yellow Taxi",
tossing in a hilarious Bob parody. The crowd was really supportive throughout
her (tremendous!) set. She mentioned that she lived in Detroit for a while and
that some friends were in the audience. She didn't lash out (a la
Indianapolis) at anyone today, she tried to confront some "critics" in the
front row (right before "Sex Kills" again, coincidence?) but it didn't get too
Joni's set was really impressive, ending in a Motown number and a torch ballad
Billy Holiday style (cigarette and all). When she finished I felt I had got my
money's worth. And then some.
I had the advantage of seeing the set in the 6th row, close to center. The
sound system was perfect! Joni later said that her sound man was very
pleased with the acoustics that night. There was supposed to have been a 40
minute break before her set, but she came swinging in about 10 minutes earlier
and went right into her first song. Joni seemed serious and introspective in
the beginning, playing solo, with little body movement or eye contact, and no
chitter chatter to the audience. The crowd was well behaved, in general, and
seemed intent on giving her their full attention. I got the sense that there
was a general good feel to the crowd, and tremendous respect towards Joni's
set. Plenty of woops, hollers and whistles cracked in the air after each song,
but the folks settled down quickly in order to hear the next one.
The show began with the expected BYT. Joni was well rehearsed with this
number, as it's been on the set list since May. The *wink-wink* Dylan
impersonation was well received by the crowd. I think she could do this
one in her sleep.
Just like this train was done to perfection. With each slap of the guitar
strings you could feel Joni becoming more confident.
The band entered for Night Ride Home and sounded tight. Joni started to
sway while singing, and you could see how wonderful she looked in her long,
tunic top and matching skirt. Both were a burgandy-garnet color, with rust-
stems running through with sparkling gold thread. What a
site, Joni in her autumnal finest. Her shoes were a neutral beige, wide
strapped sandal. Her hair, parted down the middle, fell softly just below her
shoulders, with a bit of cascaded soft curls at the bottom. She was radiant
Crazy Cries of Love was belted out and swung right into Free Man. The
band was rocking and the crowd really started to get into the set.
Harry's House began slowly, but Chris Boti showed why he was chosen to
replace Mark Isham on tour. His horn was thrilling to listen to. Again, no
Joni then lit into a fast-paced rendition of Black Crow. The pounding bass
almost made you visualize the crows beating wings.
At this point Joni stopped to talk about Ameila and Hejira. It was a nice
change of pace which led into these beautiful songs. The steel guitar seeped
in as if it were weeping. Brian's sticks were traded for brushes.
On completion of Amelia and Hejira, she thanked the audience and reminded
them that she used to live in Detroit. She said that she had a few old
friends in the crowd tonight, and that the next number was one that they
had been practicing and she decided to add for us Detroiters.
The strumming began, only to have Joni stop. She mumbled an apology to the
crowd, stared Brian Blade directly in the eyes, and started again. This
strumming went on for a good two minutes without her beginning to sing then
Brian got out his brushes and quietly picked up the beat. Joni nodded to
him and the whole band kicked into Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. At this
point, Larry flashed a couple of smiles her way. What more can I say?
Happiness came next, and the audience seemed a bit distracted at the new
material. She gave a sultry emphasis to "she regrets that now" . This song
was gorgeous, with Joni making the VG8 ringing clear as a bell. It was at
this point that the woman in the crowd caught and held Joni's attention.
She chided the woman when the song was complete, walking straight up to the
edge of the stage, bending down, asking if she was o.k., or if something was
wrong. "There's a critic in the front row", and to her: "enjoy yourself"!
Joni then jokingly commented that she felt "like a race horse that can't run
in the rain." Once the woman was singled out, she raised her fists as if
cheering in her first high school game, and Joni continued her set with Sex
Kills. Ironic? I think so. Either the
mix of the set is making folks loose interest, or they have decided to put
a ringer in the audience to get Joan pumped up for the second half of her
Magdalene Laundries was performed in the most sorrowful way that I have
heard it to date. It brought tears to my eyes when she was singing. She
did her usual intro to the song (those of you who have any of the tape tree
concerts know what I mean) but sang with such feeling. Truly remarkable.
Moon at the Window was so jazzy. It was like watching a sport in slow
motion. Everything just flowed. Brian Blade was excellent here, going
from brushes to sticks to beating the drum like the folks did at the
Pittsburgh fest. Joni really began grooving to the music at this point,
using her hands to emphasis the lyrics. The band was introduced (I think???)
after this song.
At this point Joni put down her guitar and said, "I'm going to do a little
Motown for you" and proceeded to wow the crowd with Trouble Man. What can I
say? It was SMOKING! SIZZLING! It just wowed me.
Comes Love was dripping wet sexy. She lit up a cig, took a step back, and
held her hand under her elbow while taking a few deep puffs. She gave it her
all, belting this one out. She *needs* to record the album of standards. Some
in the crowd got lost with the old, slow Gershwin tune, but others saw and
heard the heat and went crazy.
We clapped and stomped until Joni came back out with her guitar. She began
to strum the opening chords of her encore when some yahoo yelled out "Play
Woodstock" and she laughed, "This is Woodstock!".
I had almost no expectation of even seeing Joni yesterday, except during her
performance in the evening. I can't even imagine what today must seem like
for Amy or Sue or Marian or the others who had the chance to talk at some
length with her. Just being in close proximity to her was amazing (remember,
I am a true blue lurker). I don't think any of us are the star-struck kind of
people, but there we were, grown people, at a loss for words. As silly as it
sounds, just having her look at me and speak to me (mistakenly thinking I was
Robbert, instead of the grinning, tongue-tied person I felt like)...hey, look,
have you ever had someone look at you and it's so powerful that it sucks the
air from your lungs and you go weak and you think, "Jesus, why didn't I bring
a giant diamond ring with me?" :-) God...those eyes of hers...those
cheekbones!! She just seems so very decent, and reflecting on it as I have
all day, it's amazing when you look at the wild rollercoaster ride of a life
she's had, much of it thrown unflatteringly, without explanation, to the
hungry-for-anything-negative star trackers. If I think my little life has
been a bumpy ride at times, what has she had? By rights, she should have a
steamer trunk of "life experiences" to deal with..she MUST! Yet, she was just
so damn gracious and genuine and open and just a charmer. You would want this
person for a friend. One has to wonder if they could handle it all as well as
she seems to have done.
As Sue Cameron says, it's all timing. I was quite content to just be
breathing the same air, close enough for a moment to have her perfume make my
heart race. I've always wanted to see Joni in concert, ever since the only
other chance I had some 25 years ago went awry. Somehow, fate connected me
with people like Terry and Amy, and things just seemed to converge. They were
so great at the little details of it all, right down to giving Mary P. and
myself those great 6th row center seats. I know we hear it often, but the
people in our local JMDL group are ALL super people. I couldn't invent a more
perfect evening (okay, well maybe :-)), nor better company. I believe Joni
sensed that she was among true friends. To all of you...Terry, Amy, Sue,
Mary, Jeanne, Marian, Jennifer, Robbert, and even the very pregnant (due
Monday), but non-JMDLer Kelly, thank you from the bottom, top, and every other
region of my heart. Somehow, we became permanently connected to each other in
one giant memory last night, and I hope that our paths have not crossed for
the last time. My door is always open.
...back to lurking
I am going to relate the "mockingbird story" that Joni told to us Wednesday
evening. First off, let me say that I felt like I was caught by Star
Trek's tractor beam when Joni and I make eye contact that night. I just
stood, transfixed, listening as she turned her anxiousness on stage into
this wonderful analogy.
As she was walking from the bar to the elevator, with the JMDL contingent
following her, she suddenly stopped by the cushy chairs that were the site
of the first "close" encounter earlier that afternoon. I had left the bar
a bit before the group, so I was lingering in the foyer area. She caught
up with me, the group tailing her, and began to tell us of the mockingbird.
The story went something like this: When I lived in Laurel Canyon there was
this mockingbird that sang so sweetly in the evenings. It was funny
though, because when a car would come up the hill, the bird would stop
singing. As soon as the sound of the car engine faded away, the bird would
resume it's wonderful song.
Now, you can read into this what you will, but I took it as an explanation
of why the distractions sidetracked her singing. What a wonderful way to
evoke what she was feeling on stage without being judgmental of the
audience. I wish she would be comfortable enough to incorporate this story
into her set if she gets distracted in the future.
Alrighty, now for the details of the third meeting. To say that we
Detroiters know how to party would be an understatement. Let's just say
that the thrill of meeting Joni twice in one day, then seeing a smoking
performance, was way better than any drug. I think we were all buzzing
from a natural high that kept us up late in the evening. Most of the group
didn't stay at the hotel. Robbert had to leave for Toronto, Kelly needed
to get home before her husband started to worry, Terry and Marian played
and entertained us for quite a while, but even they were too spent from the
exciting day. Amy decided at the last minute to spend the night in her own
bed, and Jeanne needed to get home too. That left Jim, Mary and I. Since
the suite was so large the three of us managed to have sleeping
arrangements that were very private and comfortable.
Ninja Jim, as I will always think of him now *G* had to be up and gone
early. Mary and I never even knew he had left! I am an early riser by
nature, so when I woke up and saw the sun, that was all the sleeping I was
going to do. I busied myself by cleaning up the debris created by blissful
listers. The morning was golden and warm so when my cleaning was done I
retired to the balcony to soak up what may be the last warm morning of
1998. As smoke drifted up from the room below I daydreamed that Joni was
sitting on the second floor doing the same.
Mary rolled out of bed around 10:00, and we began to talk about departure
plans. After a few phone calls to Terry and Jeanne we had things figured
out and got packed up and ready to go. I kept going over to my book that
Joni had signed, opening it and smiling at the inscription "Hello Sue". I
caught Mary looking at me and felt a tinge of guilt at the memory of her
saying that she didn't get Joni's autograph at either of the chance
meetings yesterday. I slowly closed the cover of the book and slipped it
into the ziplock bag for safe storage on the journey home.
We had quite a bit of food left over that I wanted to return to Terry so I
knew that there would be at least two trips out to my car. I took the
first load out while Mary was rounding up her things. When I got back to
the room Mary and I managed to get the rest of our stuff down to the lobby
to check out. There was still too much for me to take to my car in one
trip and Mary had to wait in the lobby for Jeanne who had kindly offered to
take her to the airport.
As I was walking back to the hotel, singing Crazy Cries of Love, who was
standing outside talking to the bellman????? Of course you know who! She
looked great, wearing the same outfit as the day before, but we can forgive
her as she was traveling. Mary and I darted outside to wait alongside her.
My eyes about bugged out, seeing Joni in the full sunlight. What beauty to
see her blonde hair shimmering in the autumn sun. She smiled in
recognition of something, I thought maybe it was us, but it was across the
street. "Kline Gallery" Mary heard her say, and away she went.
We thought that was it for us, and Mary's last chance was lost. Luckily we
were wrong, and she steered back to our side of the street. Two other fans
got to her first, and I stood behind Mary, goading her into getting out the
CD she wanted signed. We looked in vein for the pen that Joni had used to
sign my book, but had to settle for an old bic. The couple left Joni just
as an emerald green Expedition driven by Larry Kline pulled up to the door.
I walked on, encouraging Mary all the way.
That was when our meek little Mary stood up and did what I couldn't all
three times we had seen Joni. She called out her name just as Joni was
stepping up the door of the vehicle. Mary asked Joni to sign her Taming
the Tiger CD. Joni did so, graciously, even though her ride was waiting.
Mary told her how much she enjoyed the concert and how great the band
sounded. Joni reiterated that she really liked playing with the guys. She
and Mary said their goodbyes.
Timing is everything in life. In these two incredible days, it was the
stuff that dreams are made of (Colin, that Carly lyric quote was for you!).
In another post I will tell you more details of Joni at the hotel bar. Did
anyone mention that we got a sneak peek of her new book?
(Sung to the tune of Raised on Robbery)
She was sitting in the lounge of the Townsend Hotel......
Six of the Detroit group (Robbert, Amy, Terry, Marian, Jennifer and me)
left just as Bobby was starting his set. We got back to the hotel and
decided to get a drink at the bar. There she was, sitting with Larry and
two other men, right at the first table as you entered through the glass
We didn't want to encroach on her space so we moved to the back of the
lounge. Problem was, there were six of us and only rectangle tables that
seated four. We decided to pull two extra chairs around the end of the
table. A gray haired gentleman (who looked like he could have been
someone's butler) approached us and said that he could seat us all as some
of the square tables had leaves that folded out. We followed him to the
square table directly next to Joni!
This felt really weird since we all wanted to discuss the show but knew
that it would be impolite to do so within her earshot. I have this keen
feeling that Joni has very acute hearing and might have picked up on our
conversation. So we chatted about fashions and travel plans and soon Jim,
Mary and Jeanne showed up too, and sat at the table behind us.
As Terry mentioned, Joni started with a creamy soup, either potato or clam
chowder. Next she had a large cobb salad that she didn't completely
finish. Then the entree of either fish or pork medallion, wrapped in bacon
and served with rice. She drank cranberry juice with dinner and ended the
meal with a cup of decaf.
Someone (on list) wrote asking if we bought Joni a drink. Earlier in the
day she had mentioned that she was in training, no alcohol or fattening
foods. Also the fact that the cobb salad is $12.50 and cranberry juice
$5.00 a glass might have had something to do with it! Who knows what the
soup and the entree would have set us back *G*
While they were eating Larry handed Joni a book. I glanced askance and
noticed her face on the cover. It was in golden light and was a close-up
of Joni with her hand on her cheek. I could see "Joni Mitchell" on the
top, but couldn't make out the title.
Terry described the rest of the meeting quite well. After Joni had
received the gifts Amy and I were standing by Larry at the side of the
table. Larry picked up the picture that Amy had given Joni of the Garden
concert. He said, "Where was this at?" and I laughed and replied, "The
Garden, you were there!" Then I asked about the book. He said that it was
in Italian, and picked it up for Amy and I to see. I forgot to ask what
the title was but I assume that it is her autobiography. Silly me, I
didn't ask when it would be available in the states, but Marian has
promised to try and pick it up when she returns to Vienna.
The whole experience reminded me of something. I was driving home
yesterday thinking the best investment I ever made was my automatic garage
door opener. You see I live in the school district where I work. In fact,
I am only two blocks from the school. Every day I have to wave and say hi
to the dozens of neighborhood elementary kids who think I am a goddess.
Sometimes they wait for me in my driveway. Often I roll down my window and
chat for a bit, but there are occasions, like yesterday after the
sugar-buzzed Halloween parties, when I just want to get home and shut the
garage door in their cute, adoring little faces.
Joni could have very easily done this to us. She chose not to, though, and
created in three brief encounters memories that will last a lifetime for
me. I will remember her graciousness next time the children are waiting in
It was a glorious night for Joni, her band,
and all of us priveleged to witness her tonight.
She was animated and quite expressive in her
delivery. I think she was relaxed, and it appeared
as if she were really enjoying herself.
We noticed more syncopation, and rhythmic phrasing
in her songs as she punched out the words, even on
songs like Hejira and Amelia.
Her voice was the best yet; strong, clear, reaching
higher notes than on her last tour out west.
She was able to accomplish grace notes and slid
into multi-noted words without effort, as I said
before, "punching" the delivery. Also her strength
was evident in greater volume as she actually
belted out notes I have not heard on recordings
since Shadows and Light.
Her look: A rust colored long silk skirt and matching
tunic top, loose without belt nor cinching. It was a
shade darker than her Parker Fly guitar and complemented
it well. Her lips were berry-stained. She wore her favored
silver ball earrings, and a silver necklace (?turquoise,
small squash blossom pattern), and she had on her two rings
of her left hand. That gemstone is still on her left ring
finger, and a larger flat ring was on her middle finger.
Her nails were silvery, the longer lengths being on her
I couldn't see her shoes for the long skirt and heighth
of the stage from my vantage point.
Her hair was of fuller body, a little fly-away, parted
off-center a bit.
And to finish off the ensemble, I think she wore a
wonder bra... ;-)
The band was tight, same members. I did meet and speak
briefly with that gorgeous Chris Botti, her new
Botticelli horn boy (muted trumpet), who told me
he is moving to LA in two weeks (Kakki, I gave him
your number! ;-D) from New York.
He is so beautiful. I think I am in love...
He posed with me for a photo. Thanks go to our
Laura O for snapping us together.
The trumpet added drama and was louder and had
more parts added than what Mark Isham played
for her at the WB taping we will see in two weeks
The setlist deviated a bit from Minneapolis, if
Bard was telling the truth...no Don Juan's Reckless
And she flubbed the third line of Moon at the Window,
stopped and said "I'm going to skip this one", put
down her guitar and proceeded with Trouble Man.
She did do the cigarette prop with Comes Love.
She came back for an encore with Woodstock.
The performance seemed to last only minutes, due
to my transfixed state as she played. Joni looked
happy tonight, and I was happy to see her looking
so happy...heck, we all felt happy...
She did command attention from a shouting guy
during her description (lengthy) of what prompted
the Magdalene Laundries, and told him "I have the
floor now" and asked us if we heard her, and was her
voice a blurred sound? It was after this that
she flubbed Moon..., and I see her pattern of
confronting something onstage and then having
a bit of a delayed reaction with a blocking
of thought processes, maybe due to possible
anxiety she might feel afterward.
I am eager to see her next in Atlanta (for me)
and hope she keeps up the standard of the
best performance I have seen out of the
five I've been to since May.
Did she *really* sing Don Juan's Reckless Daughter in MN? she didn't in
And did she sing *Coyote*--for real, are you sure it was Coyote--I would
have fainted if she had sung Coyote in Chi but she didn't.
The rest of the setlist was the same but these two songs were not sung
in Chi. Neither was Moon at the Window--which she started but quit--I
think there was a tuning mistake and she said forget it and took off the
guitar and did Trouble Man.
She was in excellent, excellent humor.
Ok, I saw Joni in LA in May and I thought she was great but . . .
she nothing then compared to her performance in Chicago last night.
Maybe it was becuz I was in the 11th row and could see her expressions.
But I don't think so. She was transcendent. I cried twice. Once,
during Hejira--just the lines "a defector from the petty wars that
shell-shock love away" should give her genius status--and once during
Amelia--when I went home and listened to the studio version, I knew
that her live version is amazingly superior--when she sings the line "I
crash into his arms, Amelia, it was just a false alarm", I can see/hear
her heart breaking and mine broke with her. She was utterly amazing.
I *loved* that she began alone for a couple of songs. I *loved* that
she got rid of her guitar for the last two songs (before encore) and got
down with her bad self and sang Trouble Man and Comes Love (is this the
name). The audience was totally with her and she knew it.
She seemed very, very pleased with the reception. All my friends who
are not huge JM fans thought she was amazing. Because she was. I am so
happy and jealous of all of you who will see her soon. I was actually
thinking about flying somewhere else to see her becuz she was so damn
I will probably write more later.
And what a surprise to hear Free Man in Paris! Totally unexpected. I
thought I would hear the same set that I heard in LA. I was hoping that
she would have followed Free Man with TTT but alas . . .
One thing that pissed me off about the concert--and no, it wasn't Joni
or anything she did--it was Johnny Mars, DJ for WXRT, who came out
before Joni and talked about her and Dylan being so influential and all
that great blah blah blah--and his station *doesn't play Joni*. I
screamed that out to him but I don't think he heard me.
And another thing--about Joni and her amazing performance--
when I was listening to her sing Amelia and Hejira, especially, and then
again on Woodstock--I thought that these renditions of those old,
heart-felt songs are now sung so much more heart-felt because of the
experience of life, just living life and she was pouring all that
experience into the performance of the songs. I thought this of Amelia
in LA also. But then I thought, she has made these songs mature now, as
if they were meant to be sung by an older, wiser person rather than a
younger, greener one. And if this is true for these songs, she becomes
a bigger genius in my eyes. That she, as a younger person, captured
this sense of retrospection at a young age that would resonate and
transcend when sung at a later age. I hope this makes sense. These
songs are so *right now* for her, it seems, and you can hear that in her
voice, the inflection, the phrasing, the timbre, the depth, that it is
surprising to remember they are over 20 years old. She elevated herself
into the high heavens last night--and me with her.
I have not been in love with TTT. Some of you may know that. But I am
going to listen to it with different ears or a different mindset.
Facelift sent me last night--and it was hearing it on TTT that allowed
this to happen.
God, she is great. And as much as Dylan rocked, and rock he did, I
couldn't understand a word he said and that is not the voice of a
generation, it is a growl and rasp without words. Joni's voice,
however, in all senses of the word was . . . beyond beyond
Still on cloud nine and a half...
1. Joni was relaxed, confident, poised, enthusiastic and in excellent voice.
And I mean *excellent* voice. Allergies? What allergies?
2. The set list restructuring from the West Coast shows is a good change.
Solo bits first, new covers toward the end. "Comes Love" knocked me out.
3. No DJRD after the Minneapolis tease. Shit! Not nice kitty, kitty.
4. If you go, do NOT miss Dave Alvin (nor Dylan). I wish Joni had performed
"Raised on Robbery" with Dave's band. Both NJC acts were tight and on target.
5. Move over Eric Clapton, Brian Blade is God.
After some loud jerk interrupted the flow of her intro to Magdalene Laundries,
Joni quipped something funny and sassy like "not now honey........*I* have the
floor now." Indeed she did.
Time to hit the road again; two hours to drive to Indy for tonight's gig.
P.S. Thanks for the chocolates, Laura!
my own thoughts on joni in chicago....
i did get to see the concert by the graciousness and kindness of a fellow
lister who had an extra ticket for me. i'm deeply grateful to you!!!!!
but first- the rousing meet and greet at the Sheraton- with Marsha (TN or
should I say TNT!), Diane (AK), Kingpin Bob (KY), Brad & Kim (MN), Laura (our
reporter) & Mike, Jody & Scott, and myself (IL). Quite the international
gathering. missed around the piano (play exquisitely by our own FredNOW, aka
Fred Simon) were Howard, Robbert, Don R, and who else? Mary P- we really
missed you!!!! Oh and Howard- in the 11th row- were you left or right of
center? we were mostly in the 12th & 14th on the left side of the floor.
the show---- kinda surreal- at least for me.... I haven't been to an arena
show in years- not since REM in 1986 I think. The united center - the space
is so large, so clean, and the crowd - fairly mellow- i thought it might be a
college graduation or a motivational-speaker roundup- hoopla- event.... with
speeches by betty ford and john glenn and susan powders on how to make the
most out of your life...
dave alvin and Bobby D rocked- bouncing sounds off every angle of the place,
sacrificing clarity for power... Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune put it best I
think- about Joni's sound hovering in the air- filling the vast murkiness of
that space with her amazingly intimate soundscape.
most everyone else has hit on the ups and downs- Harry's house is dull- Hejira
and amelia were out of this world- just like this train- delicious- especially
how she savors the line "watching your hairline receed.........(mull, mull,
mull, relish...) my vain darling." Free man was a delight- but she's never
played it live, that i've heard, that matches the C&S version, or takes it
somewhere new IMHO. Crazy Cries, bouncy and sweet- Happiness is the best
facelift, intimate and intense... I really feel people listening to this song
(just as they did at Old town)- I think joni's hit a nerve for many
people..... growing up but still facing your parents approval or
dissapproval... (i think of my own mother- grown with children of her own-
bringing up the subject of divorce with her mother- who shot back at her that
she would disgrace the family.. Miss Hollywood is what Grandma called her...).
Magdaleine Laundries was really great- she spit that out with full vengence!
I wanted to hear coyote and DJRD- why were they cut??? She hardly talked much
so it wasn't like she used up too much time.. (like she said). I think she was
distracted after Magdaleine, and her quip to rowdy hooters in the crowd, and
her sour start to Moon at the window...(she stopped and seemed like she was
going to start again and then changed her mind... that split second to bring
it all to a close) and maybe she sensed the crowd was restless, cuz frankly,
they were. Chicago audience aren't always the most polite- and aren't good at
holding there attention to thing that don't constantly bang them on the head.
The level of chatter during her set did increase with each song- I could hear
converstions several rows away! Living here in Chicago I feel confident in
saying that Chicagoans can be really loud and obnoxious without knowing it...
except laura and mike and scott and jody and fred and howard and..... and
maybe switching right to Trouble Man and Comes Love was a way bring her and us
back out of the trance- her emotional, rhythmic pulsing, hypnotic journey she
lead us on. I image doing all those songs back to back takes it's toll on her
too- there's lots of old ghosts in her songs. I felt them for myself;
rethinking where i was when I heard this or that song for the first time. I
laughed after her set and told Kingpin- okay, now I can relax.
But she did do an encore (which meant nobody yawned) of Woodstock- which gets
spookier with each new telling.. her voicing tinged with the weariness of an
old old story, wishing the same promise; toughened by need and urgency.
then she bowed and smiled sweetly and of she went.....
followed by the crazy man- BOBBY D- what a trickster he is....
so we went to Ritz Carlton (craving warmth and beauty) for a drink and glimpse
perhaps- but the lounge was closed... good thing, the Ritz is about as cozy as
wearing a fiberglass suit in an ice locker.
and i'm so glad to have meet some of you again, and some of you for the first
that's what makes the experience so special
Words are such poor soldiers to enlist in a description of the United
Center concert ... yes it was that transcendent. But try I will, and
please excuse me if this comes out in bits and pieces -- you guys buried
me like an avalanche of 433, yes count 'em, 433 new messages over the
So without further ado -- who but Joni cuold turn the United Center into
a small club that seats about 50? Who else plays with such relaxed
ease, sings with such purity and moves with such elegant grace? Mary
Cassatt may have painted women's hands well, but give me Joni's moving
across the strings of her guitar any day!
At once playful and reverent, chipper and melancholy -- disposing of her
one heckler with charm and ease -- and turning the crowd around
completely ... complete with her trademark "change of mind" on one song.
Well it was all there, and I'm glad I was as well.
I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but unless you had seats
farther back in the center (like mine in S106) you probably didn't. As
Joni hit the opening chords of "The Magdalene Laundries", and the stage
was bathed in that eerie blue/green light, a tremendous thing happened.
The entrances to the sections just behind the stage were curtained off.
But light from the hallway gleamed through from the center and tops.
The effect was that of a field of illuminated crosses suspended in a
starless sky -- a constellation of etherial headstones for the 110 poor
girls of the Magdalene Laundries. This is the most powerful thing I
have ever seen at any show, anytime, anywhere.
Just got back in town and had to sort through 400 emails.
I want to tell you all how wonderful it has been for me to join this list.
Not only did I get to see the smooth and sleek Ms. M. live, for the FIRST
time, after being a fan for 30 years, but I also have had the best time
with my fellow JMDLers.
I won't bore you all with my inept review of the concert since Marsha,
Fred, Howard, Brad and others did such a great job of it. But I will give
some small impressions.
It went by sooooo fast. Seemed only 5 min. Of course, the first 3 songs and
maybe more were a blur as the tears were flowing. I have not seen other of
her concerts to compare her performance to, but I did have the West Coast
tape tree that I played on the way home to Arkansas. Her voice in Chicago
was so smooth and flowing. The West Coast voice is short and brisk. She
seemed so comfortable up there. And the Chicago fans seem to be enthralled!
I want to thank the Kingpin for his expertise finding us such great seats.
To Fred for his fantastic piano concert. (Need to get some of his CD's). To
Doug for sharing his Chicago knowledge. And to Laura and sweet hubby Mark,
Jody and Scott, Brad and Kim, It was great meeting you all. And of course
to Marsha, my roomie, you are the BEST!!! We had such a great time. It is
so weird that you can meet someone for the first time and find out you
click like macaroni and cheese!
I'm sorry we didn't get to meet anyone else off the list that was there.
Howard, Don and others. We *were* able to get a photo after the concert
before security ushered us all out.
This last weekend will be one of the few beautiful memories that will flash
before my eyes at the time of my death. One of the top 5 memories of my life!
My wife and I were honored to be in Chicago for her performance and would have
gone even if she were opening for Spike Jones. At the time of the
interruption in Chicago, neither of us believed that the outburst from the
stands was anything but a show of enthusiasm for Joni. But in the difficult
communication between stage and seats, she ended up excusing the fan away
somewhat clumsily. The fan she was talking to was below us (we were high and
to the left of the stage for those of you blessed with seats on the floor).
She was at the least confused over the reason for the outburst from the seats
and could have ignored it from the perspective of the audience. I suspect
that if she had the benefit of hindsight she would agree.
With regard to Mr. Rowe's comments regarding the Dylan fans, what may have
comprised his audience 30 years ago IMHO does not necessarily represent his
audience today. The Dylan segment was not "the poet" at work, sitting on his
stool, strumming his six string and interacting with the faithful. The Dylan
segment was a strong rock performance with lyrics which were simply a weak
excuse for a tremendous rock line. It was immensely stirring, but
unfulfilling for those who came to hear a poet. His older works did stir the
audience but overall his faithful came to hear a rock concert and were not
I reserve the title, "The Poet" for our own SIQUOMB.