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From JM.com's Official Reporter Adam S. Glasser
I'm running to the car in the freezing cold. Darting to the car with my fleece wrapped around me, I pull on my gloves and try to sip my 32 oz. Coke. Bad idea. Half the Coke spills all over me just as I'm about to get in the car. After cleaning myself off, we get to the concert just as Dave Alvin is taking the stage. He was a fun opener, lots of little guitar jams and some emotion filled songs, not to mention that they guy playing the slide guitar looks just like Neil Young around 1975. The crowd was still coming in as Joni Mitchell took the stage. When she did come on, she performed a wonderful Big Yellow Taxi. During one verse, she did her best Bob Dylan impression after explaining that he wrote that specific verse. In the middle of the next song, Just Like This Train, she abruptly stopped and asked people to take their seats as it was hard for her to concentrate with so many people moving around. When she did resume playing, she delighted the crowd.
I'm not going to go into each song she played because she sticks to a pretty consistent routine. Instead I'll give you my perspective on the entire concert in general. I'm 21 years old and a junior in college. Joni Mitchell is before my time, but I'm not a stranger to her music. I found two things incredible about her music and the concert. First, each song has such a rich story. Most people my age aren't used to understanding a musician's message or story without reading about it in Rolling Stone. But with Joni it was simple. Some of her songs I had never heard before, such as her travelling song, Amelia. But I loved the song and the story it was about. Second, even though her voice has changed from her earlier days with years of smoking, her voice was still beautiful and her emotion made up for the difference. She even tried out a Billie Holliday song, Comes Love, and did it in a cool, jazzy voice with a lit cigarette in her left hand.
Rochester was a wonderful show. Joni came out and showed younger people like myself why she is such a legend, while at the same time inspired the crowd with her beautiful voice.
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Night Ride Home
The Magdalene Laundries
(From:Dan Rasp -hello wally,
I just saw Joni at the Blue Cross Arena, here in Rochester last night, the 3rd. The show was incredible. I am a Freshman at RIT. I've been a fan since middle school. She played a very similar set to Syracuse. During her solo version of Just Like This Train, she stopped for the people who were trying to find their seats or leaving to get Beer. She said, "You're either in or out! You're wrecking my concentration!" and then started the song over. This was met by a very positive applause from all of her fans. Larry Klein was perfect and the band over-all was wonderful. This was my first time seeing Joni. I lived in the Midwest and I was too young to make any of the shows for Turbulent Indigo. I was glad to hear a lot from Hejira and the Billie Holiday cover even excited the Dylan-Jerks. I wish she had played more from Taming the Tiger. I think it is a fantastic, honest album. Would have liked to hear Harlem in Havana, and My Best to You. She said that being on the road made her feel like pulling out all the old material. I had read, on your page that she was opening shows with Big Yellow Taxi, this in not one of my favorites but, Joni's new version, solo with her Parker Fly was astounding. I liked how concerned she was with the audience's manors. A lot of arena shows are ruined by jerks with reefer or beer, she didn't let them trample on the nearly religious mood of her show. Good job Joni. I love you!
(From:Dizliz39)-1) Big Yellow Taxi 2) Just Like this Train 3) Harry's House (almost thought we would hear Centerpiece too! ) 4) Black Crow ( awesome w/ band.... ooooo) 5) Sex Kills 6)Amelia 7) Hapiness is better than a face lift (sorry....title ????) 8) HEIJIRA ( I flew out of the room....) 9) MAGDALINA........ 10)DEATH TROUBLE AND TAXES ???? with a butt in hand, haha, no smoking in this place........ hahahaha 11) Then comes love? LOVE COMES/ COMES love- awesome 12) Encore : WOODSTOCK (without people talking loudly ,this time.......) Joni Played and Imitated Bob Dylan at the beginning of the show, very funny , until she was so distracted by the rude fans...... milling about , she said " OH no noooooo Joni, we dont wanna dooooo that.......(imitating BOB) the mix was great, she was beautiful..though.. "FLU- ish"
I'm coming out from the quiet corner of lurking to say that I went to the Rochester concert last night! It was great! I had great seats centered on the floor about 12 rows back. The setlist was the same as Syracuse minus Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. I watched most of the concert through the eyes of binoculars and saw every expression and every move. I was in Joni heaven!
Joni came out in a two piece dark green (velour?, soft, cozy looking material.) It was a two piece outfit with a long skirt and she had a gray shirt on underneath. She also sported her trademark silver belt as well as silver nail polish. Joni also set her hair for the occasion. She looked so beautiful!
After the first song she started Just Like This Train and then stopped playing. She started to complain about all the people milling about....in other words get in your chairs or leave! (not her words...mine) She said it was very distracting! (I was waiting for her to start shouting obscenities, but she refrained from that!!!) She looked very tired too. The first couple of songs she looked as though she was straining to do her best. At the end of the song through the binoculars I even saw the looks she gave Larry and the other band members. At the end of Just Like this Train she smiled at Larry and she walked over and put her head onto his shoulder. He gave her this encouraging look which I interpreted as "You can do this,Joan. You're fine. You can get through this." It was so touching. Later in the concert she apologized for her voice because she said she had the flu...........although she still did light up her cigarette for Trouble Man and Comes Love! Her speaking voice sounded more hoarse but her singing voice sounded great to me. I just love her voice's progression of sound over the years.
After she got into a few songs she looked more into it. I was impressed with the rest of the band as well. I've always liked how Larry compliments her but I really liked Brian Blade. He really is a wonderful addition to Joni's sound and played out emotion.
Joni didn't talk alot either before the songs. She talked about the traveling songs going across the country from Hejira and Amelia. Guys shouted out "We love you, Joni" and she said "Thank you". Someone else screamed "Happy Birthday" and she also said "yeah, it's Friday!" At the end of the concert before her encore of Woodstock she said that the crowd had been very "warm". At the end of Woodstock before she left the stage she made some comment about "innocence renewed." I don't have an actual quote but I'm hoping someone will know what she said. It was beautiful.
There were two people behind me that were definately there to watch Bob Dylan and talked throughout the set. The guy next to me turned and told them to be quiet! During the break between the Joni and Bob set the people behind me started asking me if I was a Joni fan. One of the girls was mouthy and said that she didn't like Joni's attitude....(when Joni stopped the song to tell the people to sit down) You definately could see the difference between the two sets because the Bob Dylan crowd was a lot more rowdy. I had floor seats and everyone remained seated for the most part when Joni played. When Bob came out most people were standing or trying to get up front.(I would have loved to have gone forward to get right up close to Joni but didn't for fear of a reprimand!!!!)
I am so happy that I got to see Joni for the second time. I was so happy to hear her sing Amelia again which touched me so. I have to say each song I enjoyed but I really felt Joni arrived when she sang Trouble Man and Comes Love. She was hot! You could just feel the energy and the electricity through these songs. She was brilliant. Thank you Joni for coming to Rochester again. I love you!
(From:Thomas.Sheehan@usa.xerox.com)-Joan Mitchell 11/3/98 Rochester Blue Cross Arena
Straining against late-comers, a cold, and the third venue in as many days, Ms. Mitchell appeared. The audience cheered wildly. She opened with the almost obligatory "Big Yellow Taxi". She then began struggling with "This Train". Voice frail and cracking, she managed several bars then stopped abruptly with an admonishment that seemed biblical in force. As if issuing a commandment she advised, "OK, I'm having trouble concentrating with all this movement. Move in or move out, I'll give you a minute..." Five seconds of shocked silence dissolved into applause for her commandment, 'Thou shalt not move'. After another 30 stomach-turning seconds, she resumed. I think the audience would have understood and appreciated an up front admission from Joan regarding her health. They were a bit put off by the stern notice she blurted, though sometimes that may be a good way to quiet things down.
But the struggle continued during "Harry's House". I leaned to my sister and said, "She's on the edge, we could lose her any minute". Upon finishing the song she retreated several steps from the lights. With the binoculars I saw her troubled face as she shook her head toward bassist (and ex-husband) Larry Klein. He moved to her and patted her on the arm. She moved forward into the lights...and the show went on. It was still tense and touchy, but began to heat up when "Black Crow" exploded from the stage. When that was cheered, she took the mike and introduced the band: Brain Blade on drums, Larry Klein on Bass, Chris Botti on horns, and Greg Liesz on guitars. Then she offered what almost sounded like an apology, "I'm sorry for my honky tone tonight..." -"We love you!" a scream advised- ... "thanks, I just got this bad cold." She told the story of her 1976 trip back across the country to California during which the Hejira songs were born. She then rendered "Amelia" in a slow and less enveloping style than the original. But "Hejira" came through strong.
I don't clearly remember the order of the songs, but I think she then did "Magdalene Laundries" beautifully. "Happiness Is the Best Facelift" came off all right, and "Sex Kills" struck ominous and harsh as it should. Then she put down the VG-8, picked up the inevitable cigarette and launched into two songs, "Trouble Man" and "Comes Love, Nothing Can Be Done", that peeled two layers of clothes from my back and melted the ice under the floor covering the rink. Wild applause. The band came together and took a long graceful bow, and exited. Joan was forced back for an encore. She returned saying, "Thank you, you've been very warm and appreciative. It's just that l feel I'm on the border of delirium with this flu... But we made it!" More applause as she finished with "Woodstock".
It was disappointing and just bad luck not hearing her at her best. Still, I happy to have seen one of the best composers and singers of our time.
Joan, come back to Rochester when you're well. And stop smokin' them butts! We'd like you around for another fifty years.
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-Joni was sounding very stuffed up (but the voice was beautiful) and she said something about not being well and did a much shorter set than i have been reading about so far on this tour. however, i won't complain as this is the first i have seen her perform since '83 and just to actually SEE her sing is always a rare delight. i was left with the ghost of an ethereal presence who wafts in and then is gone. the voice and the sensibility are as familiar to me as my own name and yet to see the artist perform (or is it create?- yes, i prefer that term) is a rare thing i have only had 5 times in the 28 years i have been following this woman's output. i hope i don't have to wait 15 more years, but, if i do have to, i'll be there. bob dylan. had i known back in high school, ('70-'72), i would see these two on the same bill, i would not have been able to comprehend it. it would have been akin to seeing the beatles and the stones on the same show in '69. if you can imagine. this is the fourth time i've seen dylan in the last two years and he just blows me away. he just has this amazing body of work and he gets out and plays it. intensely. i almost wish joan would take this approach to performing but at the same time i appreciate the way that she doesn't. it's all the difference in the thickness of the skin and the sensibility and the priorities. you hadda be there.
(From:email@example.com)-Hey Wally -just discovered your page. Love it! I've got some impressions to add from the Rochester show. There was a bit of irony in the air for me. The events of the evening really made me feel old, and I'm only 30!! Here's the thing: I was there to see Joni. I've been a huge fan since my teen years, and never really expected to have the opportunity to see her live. We got the tickets online and landed 15th row floor. I'm a musician, and I attended with three other musicians. I consider Joni to be one of the true "artists" of the rock era, and I felt like it was a beautiful and rare opportunity to be inspired by someone who has achieved heights I can only dream of.
I'm not going to recap the music, as others before me have done a nice job of it. Suffice it to say that I was entranced by her performance in a way I haven't been since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, the evening as a whole was really marred by other members of the audience. Next to me and behind me was a group of college kids who were there to see Dylan. They spent most of Joni's set talking and smoking. I guess I'm kind of a rabid non-smoker, but the fact is the arena is no smoking and most of us there were happily enjoying the clean air. As soon as the lights went down, the kids lit up. I asked them nicely to not smoke and they got all belligerent about it and looked at me like I must be some kind of tight-ass Republican country club lizard type and proceeded to spend most of the rest of the set blowing smoke in my direction and whining about jerks like me who don't want them to have a good time.
The irony here is that in doing so they prevented me from having the good time I had hoped for. It never ceases to amaze me how the nicotine addiction can make otherwise intelligent people into sniveling whiny punks (but I'm not bitter, really....). I even had to laugh when Joni lit up for her torch songs (WHEN is she going to do an album of this stuff??? fabulous...) and I heard a chorus of "gee, it's alright for her so I guess it's alright for us" from behind me. I guess they weren't sophisticated enough to recognize a stage prop when they saw one.
So anyway, by the time Dylan came on I had developed a pretty good headache and we wound up leaving about four songs in. Gotta be honest, legend or no, the guy is a very average guitarist and a lousy singer. Anyway, my point in all this whining is that despite their common ancestry in the folk scene of the 60's, Joni and Bob attract very different audiences. She is a stellar performer and a consummate artist and deserved to be presented in a more subdued and yea, even reverent setting. Perhaps if some other young folks (ach! the irony) read this they'll be a little more considerate next time they see some old duffers like me at a show. I promise to leave before the mosh pit gets going.
Rock & Roll Librarian