You should have seen the looks on their faces! The people walking down 50th Street on Wednesday, February 6, could not understand why there was such a sea of smiling faces surrounding Radio City Music Hall at one o'clock in the afternoon. Their inquiries were answered by "Joni Mitchell is playing tonight," but that wasn't enough to purge the puzzled looks from their faces. After all, the concert would not be starting until eight in the evening, and it was 20 degrees outside!
My feet numbed and my legs fatigued from the six hour wait, I hurried down the aisles to discover the second row seats my friends had found. Gazing up at the huge domed ceiling above my head, I could feel that this would be like no other concert before it; as it turned out I was right.
The show started with a group called "The L.A. Express." The group featured Tommy Scott on sax with John Guerin on drums, Max Bennett on bass, plus a pianist and a guitar player, all of whom play on Joni's new album. They played some really nice jazz and then introduced Joni Mitchell.
She came on stage in a dazzling low cut dress and started with "This Flight Tonite" from the album "Blue." It started off her set nicely, but then she let the crowd down for a few new songs and disappointing version of "Woodstock" and "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio." She did "Just Like This Train" from her new album "Court and Spark" and then left the stage for an intermission.
At this point, I was a little disappointed. It was like a new Joni Mitchell with all her sadness and joy turned to bitterness and indifference looking down from the stage with an almost evil expression on her face.
Joni returned 30 minutes later, this time alone and wearing a different dress. Starting with "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Peoples Parties," the concert went uphill all the way. She played beautifully "All I Want" and "A Case of You" on her dulcimer, then spoke about the time she bought some land and decided to get back to nature. Her story was a prelude to "For the Roses" in which she sings about the conflict she goes through - fame and fortune and living her own life in peace and solitude. Next she did a big city song also from "For the Roses." It's called "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" and is about a junkie.
Joni went over to the piano and played a version of "Blue" that brought tears to my eyes. This was the sad, sensitive Joni Mitchell that I had waited so long to see. She followed with "For Free" with Tommy Scott sounding in with his clarinet to finish off the song. The rest of the band followed him on as Joni did her classic "Both Sides Now" emphasizing the fact that she has changed. She then picked up the tempo with "Help Me," "Free Man in Paris," "Trouble Child," and finally, "Raised on Robbery," before walking off stage; but not for long.
Amid the shower of roses and applause she returned for her grand finale of "Blonde in the Bleachers" and "Twisted." As she left the stage for the last and final time a frantic girl yelled out, "Please don't make us wait three more years, Joni!" Let's hope that she doesn't.
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