If anyone showed up at the Academy of Music Wednesday night still thinking of Joni Mitchell as one of those "folksingers" who blossomed so beautifully during the '60s, this old folkie faithful had to come up with a quick re-evaluation of the image.
Joni was simply stunning - not that folks can't be stunning, but you just don't think of folksingers as being quite that sexy. Quite that slickly sophisticated, with a glittering floor length gown featuring very little material in the upper front section and even less in the upper back.
But there was Joni Mitchell, smashingly beautiful, dressed up like it was opening night in Vegas, and accompanied during most of her program by a slick five-piece, jazz-oriented band from Los Angeles.
Fortunately the core of Joni Mitchell's music has not undergone drastic shock treatment in an effort to keep up with the times. Keeping pace with the times...indeed, often establishing the lead...is something this elegant lady from Canada has been doing steadily with each of her record albums over the last several years.
The folksinger tag never really fit. She arrived on the pop music scene as the writer of such songs as "Both Sides Now" and she had the obligatory long, silky hair and she strummed an acoustic guitar. Her songs, though, were strictly contemporary, but record industry people did not know what to do with her or how to handle this unique new talent. And so Joni Mitchell was labeled a folksinger.
She was, and remains, totally unique. A genuine original. Her songs penetrate deeply into the human psyche. Joni Mitchell's psyche in particular. There is probably no writer around today whose songs are as starkly personal as the ones written by Joni Mitchell.
When she sings of a lover...the "constant stranger," perhaps...who has done her wrong, the message can be so intimate that one often has the embararssing [sic] sense of eavesdropping on a private moment of despair.
Wednesday night's concert before a capacity house began a half-hour late, and then came a a [sic] half-hour with the opening act, Tom Scott's L.A. express [sic].
The band's efforts ranged from undistinguished to rather decent examples of rock-based jazz. But, it turns out, the band's prime purpose was back-up for Miss Mitchell, who in the past has traditionally worked with only her own piano and guitar accompaniments.
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