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From JM.com's Official Reporters Bill Dollinger and Sherrie Goode
From Bill Dollinger:
After a grueling 40 minute wait, we finally heard the words we had been anticipating for weeks: "Ladies and gentlemen, Joni Mitchell"
Here are my reflections, song by song:
Big Yellow Taxi
Joni is still having a lot of fun with this one, and her enthusiasm was catching. She made a lot of eye contact and smiled at the crowd, generating laughter from the Dylan fans with the "Bob wrote this line" imitation.
Just Like This Train
I enjoyed the east coast version much more than the version in Los Angeles. This train seemed to have picked up some speed and I just love the snarly laugh before the "watching your hairline recede" line. She followed the song with an apology for being all "phlegmy" but her voice sounded fine to my appreciative ears.
Night Ride Home and Crazy Cries of Love
These were the songs she played which Sherrie and I were allowed to photograph. I can't go into much detail about them because I was pretty much concentrating on getting some good shots.
I love this one, but I do wish she would put the centerpiece back in, (This would be really sweet to hear with Chris Botti's trumpet.)
The Hejira trio:
The band kicked with Brian's intense drive and Joni's strong vocal rocked the house.
She cast a spell with this one. I looked around the crowd and saw nothing but captivated faces. Greg Liesz's pedal steel and Larry Klein's bass established the mood as Joni's voice was as haunting and meloncholy as I have ever heard.
Joni playfully introduces this one saying we're suffering, we have to suffer more, "Suffer!" This is just such a beautiful and complete reflection on life, love and death that I think it must be the most perfect song ever written. Joni once again gave a stunning performance.
This just keeps getting better live. It was great in L.A., but in Maryland she just blew me away! Brian's drumming was urgent and powerful, and the vocals were very strong here.
The Magdalene Laundries
The interesting thing with the Laundries is the new ending, Joni evokes such unfullfilled longing and sadness as she repeats the line "come any spring," several times.
This classic R&B; song was one of the high points of the show. Joni infused this one with raw attitude, coming up hard! Though she had been apologizing to the audience throughout the show about being ill, I found her voice to be strong and full of pure emotion - Joni, please - no apologies needed!!
Another favorite of the evening, Joni channels Billie Holiday. This one was playful and sultry, smokin!! The audience enjoyed this one immensely, and Joni pantamimes sweeping the floor to my favorite line, "Come's a mousey, you can sweep him with a broom..."
I have to say that I was somewhat disapppointed to see the encore here, because I had really been looking forward to hearing Don Juan's Reckless Daughter and Free Man In Paris, which I didn't catch on the west coast. I guess that would be my only complaint (aside from the rude Dylan fans) - not enough Joni!
After Woodstock, Joni did the Elmer Fudd "That's All Folks..." which she did on the second show in L.A. It was also very nice to hear Joni say that she had a lot of fun throughout the evening. I look forward to sharing in the fun again during the next tour.
From Sherrie Goode:
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Night Ride Home
The Crazy Cries of Love
The Magdalene Laundries
It was with tremendous excitement that I sat on the edge of my seat and waited for Joni's set to begin. I admit I paid no attention to the opening band because I was fiddlin' with the tv dials, or in this case, my cameras. Finally, after a 45 minute wait, she came out. Things were off to a wonderful start as the entire audiance gave her a big standing ovation. I was just thrilled to see her again, it had been 22 years since I last saw her in concert. There was the deja vu feeling Julie mentions, because I was there, at that very venue, in 1976 when she only sang Help Me and then left the stage. Oh please Joni, stay for more songs. She did.
Part of me misses the old days, pre Internet, when I had no clue what she might play. I felt familiar with the set list, so a certain feeling of wonderment was lacking in that regard. I do think her choices of songs were good ones, covering quite a spance of her catalog. Bill Dollinger, my photography partner, has sent in a good report on the songs. The biggest impression I had was how happy she looked. I've never seen her beam like that, and she radiated through the entire set.
I really didn't take my eyes off her very much to absorb the other band members, but I couldn't miss Larry Klien because he stood just behind her. What a lot of love and respect he emits for her and her music.
I felt real priviliged to be able to photograph her for Wally's site. Bill and I were very serious about it, and worked well together. I managed to record two 60 second MPEG clips I am sending to Wally. I have decide that all of the beautiful still images we have of her are very nice indeed, but filming her live is the best way to experience a vision of her (besides meeting her, all you lucky ones who did). But I feel you are missing a lot if you don't see the way she sways. It is hypnotic.
She did apologize several times for her voice because she had a bit of a cold. It really wasn't much of an issue. Lighting up that cig during the two tourch songs certainly didn't help, although it was a look. In a fairly charm-free world, she is a treasure. True artistic genius is a rarity to be admired. No matter if she smokes or her voice is a bit off on a note or two, she has long ago surpassed any petty judgement I may have.
Perhaps because of the long gap between the opening band and her set, she played for less than an hour. And not hearing DJRD was disappointing because it is my favorite song. But I was certaining grateful for what I did hear, and the sound was surprisingly good concidering we were in a gymnasium.
Oh, by the way, that Dylan guy was excellent.
(From:Passnger99@aol.com)-I was certainly looking forward to seeing Joni again as it has been almost 25 years since I saw her at Blossom Music Center outside Cleveland. I was not disappointed. There were plenty of half price seats to be had outside but the venue was just about full. So there was plenty of anticipation for Joni as the crowd was told to take their seats because Joni Mitchell was about to begin her set, followed by a 30 minute delay. Finally she hit the stage, a vision in green velvet. The venue is not famous for it's acoustics, but it was clear from the first notes of Big Yellow Taxi that we were in for a completely satisfactory audio experience, at least from where I was. ( 20 rows back left). With a big "Thank you Washington" she glided into" Just Like This Train" followed by her saying "I know you shouldn't do this...it's against all rules and everything...to apologize to ones audience,but I ahh picked up a bug along the way and I'm so conky(?)...ya know I can't nail the notes the way I'd like ta so you'll have to put up with me kinda spitting out here and there...I'm hlegmish..what can I say" ( she sounded just fine from my perspective) she rolled into "Night Ride Home" after introducing the band followed by "The Crazy Cries Of Love" immediately followed by "Harry's House" and a bopping "Black Crow" with "Amelia","Hejira","Sex Kills"(fast and powerful) an early happy birthday wish, then "Magdaline Launderies","Trouble Man" (slinky and jazzy),and "Come Love".And with a Bugs Bunny " Ahh,That's all folks" they rolled out...oh yeah...that delightfully tasty "Woodstock"...she starts it with "...for those with perfect pitch, my apologies...I had fun"(guess she wasn't doing "No Apologies" tonight)..completely satisfying set...we had fun too... Dylan was pretty rockin'...loud and long ( 5 encores)...nice Joni T-shirts
(From:Subject:email@example.com)-Sent Joni pre-birthday flowers yesterday at the University of Maryland, pre-concert. I hope someone got them but I guess there is no way to find out. She was not feeling very well and her voice was off. She said she was "mad" about something - voice not doing what she wanted or something else? Audience never did find out why we waited for 40+ minutes after they announced she would be right out. Maybe she was drinking lots of tea and honey? Waiting for the union Roadies to move a piano? Who Knows.
She did all her Road Songs, as she called them, - from "This Train," to some from Hejira, all the same style.
I am afraid I was a little disappointed with the lack of diversity, after waiting so many years to see her again, but that is nobody's fault she was sick.
Dylan was Outstanding!!! Glad to see so many 20 year olds in the crowd too - many of whose parents must have raised them right on this great music.
(From:Jim262@aol.com)-Joni was terrific. I had not seen her since 1976 in Cleveland. She displayed a wonderful repore with her loyal fans, although I would like to have seen her in a much smaller venue with true Joni-philes. She did several songs from Hejira, one of my personal favorites. Her band, which was quite jazz- inflected, was quite tight. Her story of the Magdalene Laundries was quite touching and she said that we will be seeing more about this atrocity in film.
I still adore her as much as I did when the album Blue first pierced my heart.
For nearly 30 years I have been waiting to see Joni in person, so I wasn't about to complain over a 30-minute delay before she came out to the stage.
She apologized saying that she had caught a bug and "can't nail the notes the way I'd like to."
Fine. The bug ratcheted her now-husky voice downward, adding new dimensions to her phrasings and lyrics that dripped smoky, fluid, and jazzy from the overhead speakers in the auditorium.
From where I sat 13 rows from the stage, all those years of waiting to witness the presence of someone whose music and message I have pored over were well worth it. I could see her expressions as she sang, watch her dance and move behind the guitar, and see the interplay of the lighting as it caught the toss of her hair and the shimmer of her light green dress.
I will leave it to others to comment about the playlist.
Let me say that the music seemed perfectly coordinated to her appearance in the nation's Capitol. I thought she expressed some intense anger and scorn in Harry's House, Sex Kills and Magdalene Laundries. Because she was in Washington, I was really expecting her to deliver her devastating and truthful message in No Apologies (What happened to this place? Lawyers and loan sharks are laying America to waste).
It was funny when she moved into the Motown portion of her show and fired up a cigarette to accompany her on Trouble Man, I thought the button-down people near us were going to remind her in a very politically-correct way: Sorry, Joni, no smoking in public places in Maryland.
I gotta tell you, those tunes gasping me breath.
Finally a word on her encore which she so graciously decided to give despite feeling so poorly.
She did Woodstock. Now I don't know much about guitars and all that, but it sounded to me like she basically inverted the structure of that song, turning it from the quasi-political mantra that was in the 1960s, to a visceral and organic statement of what we are actually as people: "stardust and carbon a billion years old."
It was well worth the wait.
And Happy Birthday.
(From:Altizert@aol.com)-The last time Joni took the stage in this dreary basketball arena (over a decade ago), she played the first several chords of her first song, started to sing and stopped. Turning to a stage hand, she said "I can't hear myself. The sound sucks," and then she walked off the stage and did not return. There must be some bad vibe at Univ. of MD (other than the locker room ambiance), because last night Joni was suffering from chest congestion which necessitated a half hour delay in the start of her set and severely curtailed her performance vocally. She apologized to the crowd, but was clearly struggling all evening to reach notes normally well within her range. As a result of her ill health, the set was abbreviated, resulting in another evening of disappointment for local fans (at least she stayed on stage more than five minutes). She looked great though, and the band was tight, but the lack of "Moon...," "Facelift" and "DJRD" were cause for frustration for those who had some idea of the usual set list. Better certainly to see her on an off night than not to see her at all, but still severely disappointing. Must we wait another ten years or more to hear Joni live, ideally in a setting designed for music, not athletics?
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-Joni was having a tough time last night in College Park Md. and apologized several times for "short changing us in the intonation department". She was battling a cold or something and admitted to be struggling to hit some notes, which made her overall performance that much more impressive. Much to our dismay, the show was definitely shortened (no Free Man in Paris, no Moon at the Window), but long on emotion. One couldn't help but admire her gritty determination in the face of this adversity, although the intonation problems towhich she alluded, for the most part, eluded us.
The sound in Cole Field House is notoriously awful, but last night was a huge exception. Joni's vocal articulation was crystal clear, and her complex chord voicings easily distinguishable. In fact the sound was preferable to the "Day In The Garden" show last August in Bethel, and most noticeably...the band really locked.
It's obvious that this tour has served to fine-tune their ensemble sound. All the wonderful nuances and subtleties inherent in Joni's music were fleshed out beautifully, and the band played with intuitive dynamics. Despite it's brevity - about an hour - last night's show was magical, a fine representation of this chapter in Joni's career, and a band "hitting it's stride". As was the case at Yasgur's Farm, it ended too soon, and knowing Joni's aversion to touring, we were gripped with the helplessness of wondering when and if.
(From:email@example.com)-I was 18 when I drove all the way from Iowa to Milwaukee to see Joni Mitchell in concert at their outdoor amphitheater. Unfortunately, the day of the concert, there was a torrential downpour that rained out the concert. That was nearly 20 years ago. I've been waiting for the opportunity to see Joni live for nearly two decades, having followed her musical career each step of the way. Her musical achievement were milestones that marked the music of my own life. So when I heard she was planning a trip to my neck of the woods- Washington D.C.- I saw it as an opportunity to fulfill a life long dream, or maybe a quest.
Wanting to make the most of what has proven to be an all too rare opportunity to witness a live appearance, I bit the bullet and paid the scalpers for front row tickets. You can imagine my anticipation as I waited patiently through the long set change that following the opening act. The delay prompted more than a few .... Joni... Joni... chants as we tried to hasten her arrival on the stage. About the time we were all at wits end, they killed the lights.
The booming voice that announce her on to the stage caused me to literally leap to my feet. And when she strode into the center stage spot light, I was sure I had died and gone to heaven. Everyone whose had a near death experience talks about the shaft of light with an angel at the other end.... so I was sure this was it.
Her "little green sleeves" dress was somehow just as I pictured it would be. She slipped her beautiful cherry wood guitar over those famous blond trusses and struck the first cord of "Big Yellow Taxi." By the way electricity that shot up my, you would have thought I was hooked up to the amp. It took me a while for the "shock" to wear off... to really believe Joni Mitchell was standing 25 feet away sing a song I literally wore out two albums playing. Her slightly more mellow than usual version of "Like This Train" (one of my personal favorites) had a warm feel, spiced with what seemed to be improvised flourishes -- loved it!
I have to admit, much a of the reat of the concert was a bit of a blur. Evidently, I kind of lost track of what was going on around me. I've been told by friends who attended, that I had a "laser lock" on Ms. Mitchell for the entire hour set. Even some of the regulars on this Joni Mitchell site, who had no idea who I was, noticed how enthralled I was... so much so that they introduced themselves to me after the show (had a nice chat with Gerald Notaro who flew up from Fla. and another nice young women who frequents this page whose name I've spaced).
I remember she played a couple of my personal favorites Amelia, Black Crow demonstrating the the kind of contrast in styles that make up her incomparable range. Seeing her up close gave me an appreciation for the physical expressiveness you can almost hear in her recorded versions, but never quite visualize. It was clear that she was singing her soul into these songs. I've attended so many concerts from "legendary" artists who seem to "phone in their performances" and not seem to think or care if anyone notices. Not Joni,.... despite her apology that a "bug" might keep her from hitting the notes the way she wanted... it was clear she still decided to go for it. She even said near the end that she thought she had shorted the audience the tonal quality she would have liked -- of word to that affect. All I can say is if that was Joni on an "off night", she needs to catch a "bug" more often. She seemed to genuinely care that she gave her audience her best. It's called integrity and commitment to excellance... commodities which seem to be in short supply on the concert circuit these days.
Anyway, the concert flowed nicely. Toward the end she shifted into her torch singer persona, lighting a cigarette at the back of the stage before she did a sassy sashay back to the mike for wonderful rendition of "Trouble Man" and "Come Love". The sultry notes that poured out where so resonate, I wondered if she was intentionally using the "bug" in her throat to added an extra measure of timber to her voice. Whatever the intent the result was astonishing (maybe hearing it from the front row helped). She really seemed to have fun with both those songs.
Then just when I was beginning to regain my senses... the set was over and she and the band were taking their bows. The entire crowd was on its feet... though mine weren't touching the ground and I found myself clapping and yelling like a kid again (songs for aging children who felt young again if just for a night).
The "Woodstock" encore was a classic ending to what for me was the most exciting and satisfying concerts experience of my life. I really felt that I'd experienced something rare and special. I even felt an intimate connection (apart from the fact that I could of sworn their times she was sing directly to me... chance are with flood lights in her face she probably could see any thing). I was more of a connection you feel when you know your witnessing history in the making. I guess that the feeling you get when your in the presence of greatness. Clearly Joni Mitchell's as an artist, poet, story teller/teacher, singer, songwriter, and musician stand with the few creative giants that have ever roamed the earth. It was not only one of my greatest pleasures to attend Joni's concert last night, it was one of my greatest honors. Thank You Joni!
(From:Rspringham@bmhsi.org)-Short But Sweet! Joni was great last night, a real trooper. It seemed that she was under the weather, and this definitely impacted her show but it was excellent none the less. She said she was "Flemish," or is that phlegmish? Anyway her voice didn't have full range but she hit some splendid notes. We were sitting 8th row center, people were milling, getting to seats late during her 3rd and 4th songs and I thought she would get upset. She didn't even notice. She did get distracted by a renegade fly that wanted a close up of her. It didn't "bug" her too much even though she mentioned it in the middle of the song (listen to the tape). Just Like This Train was sooooo sweet, as was Harry's House, Amelia and Hejira. She rocked out on Sex Kills, I now have a new perspective on this song. The hits were there, the misses were: Free Man In Paris, DJRD, Face Lift, & Moon At theWindow. This was the shortest list yet. Joni was radiant, however, very friendly and happy, green velor, blond locks, muchos smiles and a kick-ass guitar. She apologized at least twice for being sick and even said at one point that she felt she had "short changed" us. Well I got my money's worth in 65 minutes. Dylan was especially good but he looks like a walking corpse, kind of grey and ashen. He was beaming though. In fact, regardless of what was played, Joni and Bob were both HAPPY, you could tell easily. Joni has now redeemed herself at Cole Field House. In 1976 or '77 or '78, I bought 9 tickets for me and some friends to see her with Tom Scott and the LA Express and after an hour of the Express, Joni comes out for less than 2 minutes, sings half of "Help Me" throws down the guitar and runs off stage. We were told she was sick, and got our money back. It wasn't until the 1983 Wild Things tour that I got to really see her, but that memory of Cole Field House always stuck in my head. It has now been replaced by a radiant beautiful memory that will stay there until a better one takes its place. I love you Joni!
Here's the list: Big Yellow Taxi, Just Like This Train, Night Ride Home, Crazy Cries of Love, Harry's House, Black Crow, Amelia, Hejira, Sex Kills, Magdalene Laundries, Trouble Man, Comes Love, E: Woodstock. I hope everybody got a chance to see this tour. I saw at least 12 friends of mine there last night. What a year its been......Peace to all......
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-I am an University of MD alumnus (class of 1979) and have actually lived within walking distance of College Park Maryland for 35 years. Although my generation matured- to her music, being a guy I really wasnt "into" Joni contemporaneously, in the 1970's. Due to a glitch in Ticketmasters system, a lot of us had tickets in the section of the basketball auditorium that was roped off for the concert because ithe seating was behind the bandstand. Security graciously let us sit anywhere, and I moved to the very front row on "stage right." Her performance had some rough spots, but was smoothed over mostly by her warmth and charm. Like everyone, I.ve heard CSN's raucous version of "Woodstock,"...but when she started into that passionate poem, singing those words with such firmness, and melody, I heard those magically epigrammatic lyrics for the first time, and it was hushed and transcendent. When she came to "we were half a million strong" I , and probably half the people in the audience --felt like a shiver those times all over again. I know so many people that were at Woodstock, many more that were in Vietnam, and several that were both places. A lot of that feeling vibrated on into the Dylan set. But it was YOU that took up the guitar like a tuning fork on us "diamonds made of carbon." Thank you Joni Mitchell, for making us feel anointed.
Love from College Park MD
I love the web page, good for you! I have been a Joni fan for many years, and she continues to still reach inside me. She looked great at the show and her voice (although she was suffering from a cold) is just as wonderful as ever. Her musicial style has evolved into a "place", a very comforting place. She is a friend of spirit! I enjoyed her older tunes of course, but also enjoyed knowing she is not standing still. I liked the band, especially her bass playing husband...sounding much like Jaco Pastorius (fret-less?) I would have enjoyed some acoustic guitar or piano by her. So glad to make contact. Keep up the good work!
(From:email@example.com)-Subject: Joni's smoking and it's good
We waited and waited for Joni Mitchell to take center stage....Bill Dollinger and I, that is. We were nervous. We were in the first row, center stage in somebody elses seats. We had heard that at previous shows, Joni started minutes after her warm-up act. Tonight was different. Rumor had it---that she was stuck on the Beltway. It's my guess that she came on some 40 minutes later.
This gave me time to work the crowd. Who were these people in the super-expesive seats. I am a people-watcher from way back. I was not one of the Joni Mitchell Internet reporters, so I was free to represent no one---but my bold-ass, curious self. I wanted to know who these particular fans came to see, Dylan or Joni, so I asked around. People volunteered how much they paid scalpers for their seats. People told me about why they love Joni and which albums were their favorites. Dylanites gave me a countdown of how many times they've seen him in concert. Teens were asking me about Joni's music .... Heck, I was having a good ol' time conducting my own Joni Mitchell mini-focus group in rows 2 and 3. Many of the men said that they came to see Dylan, except for the "NBC"guy in the third section/first seat, but it was your average, middle-aged women who kept piping in that they were there to see Joni Mitchell. Have to say that it was Yuppyville personified at this concert. Just like me, this was a "first concert in 12 years" for many of the fortysomething folks I chatted with. Everyone wanted to know more about the jmdl, and we're intrigued to discover that a place to talk Joni existed! It was 10 times more surreal ---and gratifying to communicate in the flesh with Joni fans in person as opposed to on line! (Gave me a new appreciation for a Jonifest on a big scale.) Later on, I looked out on the sea of Joni's fans singing softly along with Joni, and I was moved. I wonder if Joni was able to see from the stage, what I witnessed tonight.
Bill and I were still anxiously waiting to see how long our luck would last in the first row/center, and the then finally the house lights went dim. We had known that Dylan groupies dominated the first row, so when Joni came out to the sounds of "Big Yellow Taxi," we screamed our heads off, and she looked right down at Bill and me! She smiled at us so sweetly, looking genuinely grateful for our shouts and chants, "JONI, JONI!!!!"
How did Joni look? Radiant! She appeared a good 15 years younger than 54....She is even more beautiful in person. It's always been my feeling that long shining hair adds youthfulness to certain types of women. Im glad Joni seems to agree. Tonight she wore her hair parted in the middle and straight, still looking like the Joni we all fell in love with so many years ago. She wore a crushed velvet, avocado tunic with a matching, floor-length skirt. Her color choices of warm bronze and rich muted greens seem to reflect the sunny Autumn day we had today in DC. As usual she managed to convey a sense of artistic elegance and hippness unmatched by anyone I've ever known.
During the end of 'Taxi,' my front-row seat was taken by a Joni-lovin' couple, armed with roses, and my heart sunk as I thought about the drudgery of heading back to the primo location of the 15th row on the floor, where I had abandoned my husband. But Im a lucky person, well maybe not as lucky as those jmdlers in Detroit, but, by gawd, I found an unoccupied aisle seat in the third row!!! Joni, of course, did her Dylan impersonation, during "Taxi", and I looked around at some of my "neighbors" who had strongly admitted that they were there to see Dylan, and they LOVED hearing her doing Dylan! (A very clever way to win over the Dylanheads from the start, I might add.) She yelled, "Thank you Washington!!!"
Before Joni started "Just Like This Train," she began describing getting over the flu, and apologizing to the audience, as I heard requests for her oldies being shouted out. "I'm flemmish, what can I say, I have the sniffles," she said very good-naturedly....as if to say, "bear with me here for a minute....Ill do whatever I can do best tonight." However, from where I sat, and I was close, she didn't appear the least bit sick, and her voice sounded terrific.
I'm not going to bore you with the same descriptions you've already read about in other reports reviewing her overall, well-rehearsed, cookie-cutter list set. Although the band was extaordonary, and it was interesting for me to hear the unique spin they put on Joni's music----I may have incorrectly sensed, with Joni, there was a sort of "going through the motions" energy, which, in retrospect, seemed more like foreplay, compared to later on in the set. Joni sung the same songs she did in Rochester. Hejira was awesome, of course. She left out "Free Man." And you know that I loved hearing them all, especially "Black Crow," which I swear sounded more like Bryan Thomas's version of "Black Crow." (For those of you who haven't heard the jmdl Tribute Tape----jmdler Bryan Thomas, sang a R&B; version of "Black Crow," which was sent to Joni last year.)
Look, Im no music writer, and her voice DOES sound different, but during the concert, once Joni abandoned herself and gave into the improvisational energy of "Troubled Man," it was then that I got "it." The best was yet to come... Instead of longing to hear "Blue" again, something more rich and golden and jazzy and sexy had emerged and... It worked. The people around me thought so too. Some of the women in my row, who I befriended, came to hear "Help Me" and instead, were completely seduced by "Troubled Man"------because, when Joni put down that VG 8, which, seems to block a lot of her electric, expressive energy, for me at least, ---this is when the whole room could sense---that Joni Mitchell had finally ***arrived.***
From the back of the stage, she came forward giving us her womanly, "bad-ass"-attitude-strut. (To see and feel the utter sexual soulfulness of this woman--- come off so compellingly electric was spellbinding-----and the audience was at a standstill.) Her stance said that she was in charge, and had somethin' to say. She raised out her arms, snapped her fingers and swayed her hips to accentuate Marvin Gaye's lyrics. I thought to myself, "you go girl, Joni-----54 years old and still torching the place!" The message was clear. She's not getting older, she's getting better. Once again she is on the cutting edge of capturing and defining another boomer's zeitgeist: I was inspired and so was every other over-40 year old woman at the concert. If Joni can still have "it" at 54, then so can we! Vavoom..........taming what tiger? Certainly not hers. Mitchell managed to empower the woman in *all* of us. The man in front of me looked gaaagaaa. Joni was smmmmmmmokin' and her cigarette couldn't have complimented the moment better....it was like a metaphor. After she finished "Comes Love," everyone looked as if they could use a cigarette. The woman next to me, asked me "Now how OLD is she? Gosh does she look good, and whooooa can she sing."
Julie Z. Webb
(From:NatDC@aol.com)-Revisiting the scene of a 1977 nightmare (when Joni sang half of "Help Me" and ran offstage, never to return), I approached the Cole Field House show at the University of Maryland with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Like most mortals, I hadn't seen her since in person since her 1983 tour. Settling into our spectacular fifth-row, center-aisle seats toward the end of the opening act, my companions and I waited - and waited - and waited - for Joni to appear. After 40 minutes, my stomach in knots, I was sure the Cole Field House curse was happening again. I should have known things were relatively OK - a blond woman who appeared to be Kilauren was gleaming with Donald and some other folks at the side of the stage, looking unconcerned. But I was nervous and sure the worst was happening. It was just a false alarm: the lights finally went down and there she was!!
Joni ended up sweetly apologizing, three different times, for the rough edges in her voice and for her lateness, due to "picking up a bug" along the tour. She kept apologizing for not hitting some notes as well as she wanted. Not that anybody cared. Being under the weather seemed to make her all the more human, and sympathetic, and real (and talkative), and the sellout crowd responded warmly. She had the audience in her hand. Folks were shouting out their support and love, and their birthday wishes. "It's not for another two days!," she protested, giggling.
A shimmering presence in a velvety or velour two-piece deep green outfit, she played guitar with passion and authority. The new fancy high-tech guitar has an unbelievably rich, full sound that can be, by turns, shimmering and delicate, and thick and arena-filling. The band was simply wonderful, with Greg Leisz's pedal steel filling most of the keyboard colorings of the album versions, Larry Klein's by-now familiar bass solidly anchoring things (and even sounding like Jaco on "Hejira"), and Botticelli-boy Chris Botti's subtle, beautiful, sympathetic trumpet shadings. Brian Blade's drumming, of course, was sensitive and solid.
Highlights for me were the first number after the band joined Joni, a positively glowing rendition of "Night Ride Home" that literally brought tears to my eyes and left the audience awe-struck, and a haunting, lilting, powerfully emotional version of Amelia, brilliantly arranged with increasing orchestration as it built to an overwhelming conclusion.
All did not go flawlessly, however. The long intermission led Joni to cut three songs from the set. I was crushed! She didn't say anything to the crowd, but those of us who have followed the tour on the web (thanks, Wally - we love you and we're pulling for you!) knew that she skipped "Free Man in Paris," "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter," and the touching "Face Lift" off the new album.
"Comes Love" fired up the crowd, some of whom may not have been familiar with this side of Joni. And, as always, she clutched that cigarette like she was hanging on to a dear friend, and delivered her "smoky" rendition of the old chestnut. The crowd went nuts. When she finished, she said something like, "That's it!" and waved to the folks, taking several bows with the band. The encore of "Woodstock" was similar in tone and arrangement to the 1979 and 1983 tour versions, but pared down slightly.
All in all, for me a deeply satisfying evening, albeit frustrating in losing the three songs. During the intermission, young women around me were lamenting, "I wish she would have done something from 'Blue'!" but everyone was in awe of the performance. Today's Washington Post gave her a front-page of the "Style" section rave review, calling her set "warm" and "richly textured" and saying that she was "superbly backed" by her band.
We stayed for about half of the energetic, well-performed Dylan show, but the arena was allowing folks to move down and stand close to the stage. My fifth- row center seat suddenly became ground zero for bopping, dancing folks as the crush increased. It seemed like everybody was at the wingding. We weren't the wingding type, so we went outside, where the weather was howling.
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-I first turned on to Joni's music as a music student at the Berklee College of Music back in the 1970s when the late bassist Jaco Pastorious first came on the scene. I used to listen to her songs over and over in my snowed-in Back Bay Commonweath Ave. apartment. I have been waiting 24 years to hear Joni in person.
Her performance Thursday evening was just fabulous, in spite of her cold. The sound system was horrible for the first band before Joni (Dave Alvin). The sound system was equally horrible for Bob Dylan. For Joni, the sound system was crystal clear, absolutely perfect. Her cold made her voice a bit deeper, with fabulous depth and intensity. She was just incredible, absolutely incredible. Her band was fabulous, with each band member a world class musician.
Joni's songs are so beautiful and are so deep with substance and meaning. My favorite was Harry's House, although it is hard to pick just one favorite. There was not one weak song in her selection of material. "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" is my favorite album of all time.
Joni is a gifted singer, musician, poet, songwriter, and lyricist. She captivated her audience Thursday night. Dylan was second billing to Joni, in my book. While Dylan looked like a burned-out old man, Joni's magic was fresh and alive.
Thanks for a wonderful performance Joni. Your music is just fabulous and has touched more people than you probably realize.
St. John Courtenay III
(From:email@example.com)-Joni's guitar playing and band sounded great. She continually apologized for her cold/flu/congestion but frankly her voice was fine. Some questioned her smoking a cigarette during the performance if her pipes were bothering her, but who cares. It was funny but everytime she apologized, I was waiting for her to apologize for walking off the stage in a snit after one song at Cole 22 years ago. A youthful indiscretion I guess.
I was amazed by her Parker Fly and the accompanying VG-8. Digital Technology has certainly revolutionized music.
Take care Wally,
This was my third time enjoying Joni live since I fell in love with her poetry and music in 1972.æ I felt bad for her because she was obviously not feeling well.æ She apologized to us and really tried hard to sing.æ I just loved her and her performance even though she rated it poorly.æ The next night I watched her cable special and could really tell the difference in her voice.æ However, even with a cold, her stage presence was powerful and undeniable.æ Joni rules!!
(From:JAEM77@aol.com)-What i enjoyed most about the concert was that Joni seemed happy. I had read about the rude fans at some of the other concerts. Here she came out and i think she sensed the love we were feeling. I really enjoyed her strumming that guitar with a vengence.And she looked sexy in that green gown she was wearing (sorry folks, i still have this mad crush on the lady)
The voice was warm, engaging, and i for one could not understand the apologies she kept making for it. Yellow taxi was the perfect intro and the janet jackson riff at the end was playfull and current. The hejira suite was mesmerizing, i for one could suffer through that again.
the trouble man cover, really surprised me...she tore through it with all this attidude, marvin gaye would have been pleased...comes love floored me..I cant wait for her album of covers..
praise to the band, and no offense to the dylan fans, i would have enjoyed more of joni..I think she should get out of those stadium shows and hit venues like carnegie hall, the kennedy center or theater type halls..She is worthy of this..thank you
(From:firstname.lastname@example.org)-I saw the College Park 11-5-98 show last week. She was really great! I was surprised to hear how low and husky her voice had become, but her new voice just brought more feeling and emotion to her songs. She opened with Big Yellow Taxi and closed with Woodstock. She apologized (unnecessarily) about her tonality and inability to reach some high notes, which she said was due to illness. Overall, a spectacular show that inspired me and I'm sure a great deal of others. æ
(From:KLAW913@aol.com)-Have recently discovered your web page and kept up with the tour. I'm a lifelong fan of Joni's and couldn't have lived with myself if I missed her, particularly being so close. I've read most of the other reviews and wish I could be so upbeat about her concert, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed. She apologized in between every song and I thought she sounded very good. I was mostly disappointed in her repertoire. I know all of her stuff and wasn't looking to hear "mainstream" stuff, but felt that the material she chose was not some of her better stuff (not that she has anything that's bad). Was very disappointed not to hear any of the new songs which I like very much (my fav is "Man From Mars"). My experience may also have been colored by the 2 inconsiderate jerks beside me who came in during her 3rd song, blocked everyone arounds' view and sat down to carry on a conversation between themselves. When I asked them to talk later or somewhere else, they said maybe we should switch places, because they intended to keep talking (which they did). I will never understand why people would pay a lot of money to see someone and then sit and talk. Joni also indirectly talked to me that night - I yelled out "Happy Birthday" to her - it was echoed by a few others and then she commented on it. Despite my disappointment, I'm glad I went and still remain a loyal fan forever. Thanks for your web page!
(From:MSIPete@aol.com)-I have literally grown up with Joni's music. I have been playing music since Jr. High school and was really influenced by all of those records. The last tour I witnessed was "Shadows & Light". Strangely enough, I think some of the best records were the ones that received the most criticism, although I like them all very much. "Chalk Mark", "Mingus" , "Dog-Eat Dog', "Night Ride Home" and of course the older albumns. "Turbulent Indigo" did deserve the attention. But all of the others are just as good in many ways.
I have seen a lot of great music. Really! All the greatest players in the world. I was in the 7th row center at Univ of MD on Nov 5th. And I must tell you that it truly was a special night for me. Musically, that stuff was so heavy! Joni's voice, guitar, Larry, Brian Blade - the whole band sounded great through the V-DOSC. Joni's guitar playing! Wow.
Maryland Sound & Image
1st Set: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men
2nd Set: Joni Mitchell
3rd Set: Bob Dylan
John (from the Dylan list):
A bit after 8 the guy asks everyone to take their seats and get ready to
welcome Joni Mitchell. So we do. For almost an hour. Grrr. By this time,
I'm looking for things to hurl at Joni when she finally deigns to come out
on stage. But eventually she does. She opens with Big Yellow Taxi, the
only song I knew in her whole set. Weird arrangement--just Joni and her
electric guitar. Very odd, but sort of compelling. She did another song
solo, then apologized to the audience saying she was sick and wasn't going
to be able to sing very well. She did several songs with the band, which
were pretty nice. The trumpet player was god-awful until the very end. I'm
not into trumpets much anyway (don't ask me what you can do with your Miles
Davis records), but this was unbearable. His tentative squeaks between
vocal lines were incredibly lame, but he semed to think he was being
particularly profound and avant-garde. Oh well. She did the cigarette
thing again, which prompted one of the balding boomers behind me to comment
"she's got a cold, and now she's smoking a cigaretted on stage. And she's
surprised she's not singing well?" My sentiments exactly. Joni did one
encore, a solo electric "Woodstock," which was one of her better numbers of
the evening. Very nicely sung, considering.
Joni blew me away...and she kept apologizing tonight for not being in good
voice because of what she called "a bug" she'd picked up. I'm too giddy to
write more at the moment, but goodness what an evening with Joni!
At some point after my love for Joni's music congealed, a fear began
to seize me that I would not ever get the chance to hear her live before
she retired, or worse. I just grew up too late, I thought. Thank the
Goddess I was wrong.
I have been convinced for a while that we are now seeing Joni learn to
use her voice with the aplomb she has long employed as a wordsmith
and composer. I now know I'm right. Even though she felt under the
weather and lacked some of the vocal elasticity I've heard from the
Day in the Garden performance, it was clear that she has learned
how and when to deploy her unique shapings. The gentle sorrows of
"Amelia," the percussive exclamations of "Black Crow," and the
anguished melismas of "Magdalene Laundries" all shrank the
basketball arena to a confessional booth. Of course my 9th row seats
didn't hurt. :-) The real stunners, of course, were "Trouble Man" and
"Comes Love," when she was freed from the obligation of telling a
story she created and reinvigorated someone else's tale with her own
stylings. I think her rediscovery and performance of these jazz and
R&B standards are direct roots of the vocal renaissance we are now
Unfortunately, we were deprived of "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter,"
"Moon at the Window," "Free Man in Paris," and "Facelift," perhaps
due to her illness. Nonetheless it was a memorable and worthwhile
evening, for Chris Botti's unmuted trumpet sighs in "Magdalene,"
for Greg Liesz's tight steel slurs in "Amelia," and for Brian Blade's
Bob Dylan was great as well. His singing did not bother me at all,
and his band was incredible. I must thank a lot of people on this list,
especially Brad Fors, for increasing my appreciation of his music.
I do have to say though that Dylan's skills as a lyricist and
bandleader dwarf his overwhelmingly unfortunate guitar solos. Those
should have been left to his guitarist, who is a fine player. I'm also
not crazy about most Dylan fans. They were respectful enough
during Joni's set, unlike previous shows, but I found their habit of
cheering every time Dylan sang a given song's title as a lyric more
than a little perplexing. "Don't think twice now / It's alright." "Woo-
hoo!!!." Um, OK.
They also wildly applauded every single one of his guitar solos. They
must have loved that root note he hangs onto as much as he did.
But I'm being too mean now. His one harmonica solo was excellent
and it was a generally energetic and tight show I'm glad to have seen.
Now I'm looking forward to more revelry with BarBearUh, Patrick,
Bob H., Bill, Julie, Alan, Sherrie, Duane and clan over the next two
We waited and waited for Joni Mitchell to take center stage....Bill
Dollinger and I, that is. We were nervous. We were in the first row,
center stage in somebody elses seats. We had heard that at previous
shows, Joni started minutes after her warm-up act. Tonight was
different. Rumor had it---that she was stuck on the Beltway. It's my
guess that she came on some 40 minutes later.
This gave me time to work the crowd. Who were these people
in the super-expesive seats. I am a people-watcher from way back. I
was not one of the Joni Mitchell Internet reporters, so I was free to
represent no one---but my bold-ass, curious self. I wanted to know who
these particular fans came to see, Dylan or Joni, so I asked around.
People volunteered how much they paid scalpers for their seats. People
told me about why they love Joni and which albums were their favorites.
Dylanites gave me a countdown of how many times they've seen him in
concert. Teens were asking me about Joni's music .... Heck, I was
having a good ol' time conducting my own Joni Mitchell mini-focus group
in rows 2 and 3. Many of the men said that they came to see Dylan,
except for the "NBC"guy in the third section/first seat, but it was your
average, middle-aged women who kept piping in that they were there to
see Joni Mitchell. Have to say that it was Yuppyville personified at
this concert. Just like me, this was a "first concert in 12 years" for
many of the fortysomething folks I chatted with. Everyone wanted to
know more about the jmdl, and we're intrigued to discover that a place
to talk Joni existed! It was 10 times more surreal ---and gratifying to
communicate in the flesh with Joni fans in person as opposed to on
line! (Gave me a new appreciation for a Jonifest on a big scale.)
Later on, I looked out on the sea of Joni's fans singing softly along
with Joni, and I was moved. I wonder if Joni was able to see from the
stage, what I witnessed tonight.
Bill and I were still anxiously waiting to see how long our luck
would last in the first row/center, and the then finally the house
lights went dim. We had known that Dylan groupies dominated the first
row, so when Joni came out to the sounds of "Big Yellow Taxi," we
screamed our heads off, and she looked right down at Bill and me! She
smiled at us so sweetly, looking genuinely grateful for our shouts and
chants, "JONI, JONI!!!!"
How did Joni look? Radiant! She appeared a good 15 years
younger than 54....She is even more beautiful in person. It's always
been my feeling that long shining hair adds youthfulness to certain
types of women. Im glad Joni seems to agree. Tonight she wore her hair
parted in the middle and straight, still looking like the Joni we all
fell in love with so many years ago. She wore a crushed velvet, avocado
tunic with a matching, floor-length skirt. Her color choices of warm
bronze and rich muted greens seem to reflect the sunny Autumn day we had
today in DC. As usual she managed to convey a sense of artistic
elegance and hippness unmatched by anyone I've ever known.
During the end of 'Taxi,' my front-row seat was taken by a
Joni-lovin' couple, armed with roses, and my heart sunk as I thought
about the drudgery of heading back to the primo location of the 15th
row on the floor, where I had abandoned my husband. But Im a lucky
person, well maybe not as lucky as those jmdlers in Detroit, but, by
gawd, I found an unoccupied aisle seat in the third row!!! Joni, of
course, did her Dylan impersonation, during "Taxi", and I looked around
at some of my "neighbors" who had strongly admitted that they were
there to see Dylan, and they LOVED hearing her doing Dylan! (A very
clever way to win over the Dylanheads from the start, I might add.) She
yelled, "Thank you Washington!!!"
Before Joni started "Just Like This Train," she began describing
getting over the flu, and apologizing to the audience, as I heard
requests for her oldies being shouted out. "I'm flemmish, what can I
say, I have the sniffles," she said very good-naturedly....as if to say,
"bear with me here for a minute....Ill do whatever I can do best
tonight." However, from where I sat, and I was close, she didn't
appear the least bit sick, and her voice sounded terrific.
Im not going to bore you with the same descriptions you've
already read about in other reports reviewing her overall,
well-rehearsed, cookie-cutter list set. Although the band was
extaordonary, and it was interesting for me to hear the unique spin they
put on Joni's music----I may have incorrectly sensed, with Joni, there
was a sort of "going through the motions" energy, which, in retrospect,
seemed more like foreplay, compared to later on in the set. Joni sung
the same songs she did in Rochester. Hejira was awesome, of course.
She left out "Free Man." And you know that I loved hearing them all,
especially "Black Crow," which I swear sounded more like Bryan Thomas's
version of "Black Crow." (For those of you who haven't heard the jmdl
Tribute Tape----jmdler Bryan Thomas, sang a R&B version of "Black Crow,"
which was sent to Joni last year.)
Look, Im no music writer, and her voice DOES sound
different, but during the concert, once Joni abandoned herself and gave
into the improvisational energy of "Troubled Man," it was then that I
got "it." The best was yet to come... Instead of longing to hear
"Blue" again, something more rich and golden and jazzy and sexy had
emerged and... It worked. The people around me thought so too. Some of
the women in my row, who I befriended, came to hear "Help Me" and
instead, were completely seduced by "Troubled Man"------because, when
Joni put down that VG 8, which, seems to block a lot of her electric,
expressive energy, for me at least, ---this is when the whole room could
sense---that Joni Mitchell had finally ***arrived.***
. From the back of the stage, she came forward giving us
her womanly, "bad-ass"-attitude-strut. (To see and feel the utter
sexual soulfulness of this woman--- come off so compellingly electric
was spellbinding-----and the audience was at a standstill.) Her stance
said that she was in charge, and had somethin' to say. She raised out
her arms, snapped her fingers and swayed her hips to accentuate Marvin
Gaye's lyrics. I thought to myself, "you go girl, Joni-----54 years
old and still torching the place!" The message was clear. She's not
getting older, she's getting better. Once again she is on the cutting
edge of capturing and defining another boomer's zeitgeist: I was
inspired and so was every other over-40 year old woman at the concert.
If Joni can still have "it" at 54, then so can we!
Vavoom..........taming what tiger? Certainly not hers. Mitchell
managed to empower the woman in *all* of us. The man in front of me
looked gaaagaaa. Joni was smmmmmmmokin' and her cigarette couldn't have
complimented the moment better....it was like a metaphor. After she
finished "Comes Love," everyone looked as if they could use a
cigarette. The woman next to me, asked me "Now how OLD is she? Gosh
does she look good, and whooooa can she sing."
Hey Now Joniphiles,
I'm at work the day after the Cole Field House show. What a great time.
Joni was in an upbeat mood and happy throughout......BUT.......she
seemed to be suffering from some flu-like symptons. She said she was
"flemish" as a kind of joke. We had 8th row center seats and the sound
was perfect. She was not distracted by the people getting to seats
late, but I was afraid she would be. She did get pesterred by a fly a
couple of times. She was apologetic and even said, towards the end,
that she felt she "short changed" us. Oh well......short change me any
day, we had a ball. She did the shortest set list so far. For those
keeping track it was the first time she cut out anything in the early
part of the show. To our dismay she did not do Free Man in Paris, as
well as, she did not do DJRD, Face Lift or Moon at the Window. The set
lists are getting shorter, I believe she is tired. But heck, she was
wonderful! We laughed, we cried, we hugged, I saw at least 10-12
friends from all different phases of my life there. The only other full
show I've seen was at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia MD in 1983,
and it was awesome. I just got a tape of it last week, only took me 15
years to get that tape. I taped last night on a small walkman type
deck, sounds like crap, but a friend of mine taped also and I heard it
on the car stereo afterwards and it sounded good. I've got 10+ Joni
bootlegs, does anyone out there trade tapes? The only history I have to
admit to is that in 197?, I think '76, maybe '77 or '78, I bought 9
tickets to see Joni and the LA Express at Cole Field House and she
played 1/2 of the song "Help Me" and threw down her guitar and ran off
stage. We were freaked, they came out and told us she was sick and we
could get our money back.....what a bummer! She's also cancelled a
couple other times when she was scheduled to play around these here
parts (Maryland, DC) over the past 25 years. I still love her though,
she was beautiful last night, green velor, blond, smiles, sweet guitar.
This is my first post on the List.....this is a banner year for Joni and
all of us, I hope she keeps going for a long time to come. Gotta get
that new video, I don't have cable so I can't see it tonight.....damn!
College Park Concert Weekend Musings:
1. A special thanks to Roy and Billeee, (friends of Bill Dollinger,) for
hosting the Pre-concert party at their cozy home
2. I so enjoyed spending time with Sherrie Good's sister, her hometown
friends and Alan Friedman.
3. Couldn't believe the small thrill I got waiting, after Joni's
performance, outside of Cole Field House locker room with only three other
people, and seeing Joni and her band exit into a limo van. She flashed a
quick papal wave our way. No, didn't get to meet her, but it was fun
shouting out our admiration and support. (She **is** shorter than she
appears on stage.)
4. It was a special treat hearing our Jmdler-Duane-- describing to me what
it was like for him to be the grand recipient of a **backstage pass** from
Wally for the Madison Square Garden concert. I loved hearing him dish about
seeing the stars and musicians cross his path...including Siquomb. Way to
go Duane K!
5. Having a chance to spend some time with long-time, jmdler list
member,Jerry Notaro, was one of the highlights of my weekend! He is an
intelligent, warm, open person, with a playful nature and wonderful sense
of humor. He is a rennaisance man, a jack of all trades, a stimulating
conversationalist...he knows more about popular culture and Joni's music
than anyone I have ever met.
6. Another thank you to both Cindy and Sherrie for paying to get the
pay-per-view service installed, so we could gather at their home to watch
7. It was also great to meet Janet Hess, who joined all of us for the
"Afer-Van Gogh-Ethiopian dinner. (Leaning on that "Ethiopian wall", I
felt like I had 17 glasses of Rhine Wine," but it was only a small glass of
Ethiopian Honey Wine that did me in.....Don't ask me what I think about
ejira bread---but I will tell you that Jon said, "now, you be polite".
(M.Y., the parody is all yours.)
8. And finally, a special thank you to Michael Yarbrough for having the
psychic vision to score Van Gogh tickets, (months in advance,) within two
days of the date that Joni was later scheduled to perform at the College
Park concert. This enabled my husband and I to have a wonderful four days
in DC without children...(The Chuck Close exhibit turned out to be quite
interesting.) It was great seeing all of you!
-Julie ZWebb She taps her glass with an emery file watching three rings
in the sun, the golden dive, the fatted flake It's all a dream she has
awake ... they've come for jmdl fun and Autumn sun to do up Washington.
Dream on Dream on Dream on