A Joni Mitchell concert is a very personal thing.
Not very private, considering Kleinhans Music Hall was sold out three days after tickets went on sale, but nonetheless very intimate.
Some people see alienation in her music, others just another rock 'n' roll concert, but for me Monday evening was a time of beautiful music and refined poetry.
JONI WAS last in Buffalo Dec. 13, 1969, her final stop on an American tour that marked her self-chosen hiatus from singing.
She needed time to get away from the crazy music scene, to grow a garden and to sort out her thoughts.
She shares herself in her music. You can see a lot of Joni and a lot of yourself in her words. Like a painter who lives in his box of paints, Joni lives in her songs, sharing brilliant strokes of her life but never the whole picture.
HER SONG For The Roses best reflects her shy withdrawal as she likens her career to the arbutus tree that "refuses to be cultivated, captivated or irrigated."
It's true. There is a certain part of Joni that can't be captured. Her golden hair, bright smile and girlish giggle, all those real delights just are not there in a record album.
Her poetry is an essay of self-conscience; crystalline images delicately defining sharp impressions of people and places.
The line "I wish I had more sense of humor" in her composition People's Parties describes perfectly my own sense of the distances between people in mirrored rooms, drinking white wine from clear plastic cups.
WHEN JONI first came onstage Monday with her five-man band, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, I was afraid she had completely discarded individual communication in favor of effects and gimmicks.
Joni sang alone four years ago with just her own guitar accompaniment.
My faith was restored at the second half, when she sang one-to-one on an empty stage. Joni still has all her old magic.
She uses her new band effectively. They are good musicians, many of the same crew used on her last two albums. Tom Scott plays woodwinds and reeds, Max Bennett, bass; John Guerin, drums; Roger Kellaway, piano and Robben Ford, guitar.
JONI LISTENS carefully to their playing; laughing gleefully, her shoulders swaying to keep time and her voice striving for an instrument-like quality and perfection.
She looks like a rock 'n' roll singer in front of the band belting out Raised On Robbery. But there's more, she's a chanteuse singing of A Free Man In Paris or a jazz mama maneuvering through intricate chromatic passages and staying in tune the whole way in Twisted.
With guitar, piano and dulcimer she came to us again. What remains of the past is the warmth and almost religious feeling of the evening and a little better understanding of Joni.
In Both Sides Now, she emphasized, "I've changed, yes, I have" - but all for the better, Joni.
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