NASHVILLE - Joni Mitchell (Asylum) set a high standard of excellence for future pop performers to follow at the elegant new Grand Ole Opry House April 4. Mitchell is the first pop artist to use what is perhaps the finest live concert facility in the world. Taking advantage of the 32 house speakers plus 20 speakers of her own, Mitchell's crystal-clear voice filled the entire room.
Mitchell's appearance seemed to have a quieting effect after several days of tornados and storms in this area. An idealist who possibly doesn't want to be, she almost summed up her philosophy when she said, "I can't believe things can be so beautiful and yet so mean," while painting word pictures of a storm she witnessed the previous day.
Mitchell, and Tom Scott & the L. A. Express (Ode), who opened the show with some superb jazz arrangements, found a receptive audience of 3,800 for her two-part concert. The audience was almost too polite, paying close attention to each line. In this respect, it was hard to distinguish whether this was a literary or a musical affair.
Joni opened the show with "This Flight Tonight," then continued into "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio." Scott and the L. A. Express complemented her perfectly as she matched her voice to each instrumental run. Mitchell offered the audience an anthology as she sang selections from each of her albums. She mixed in classics like "Woodstock," "All I Want" and "Both Sides Now" with new material like "Banquet," "See You Sometime" and "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire." She also did "Help Me," "Raised on Robbery" and "Car On The Hill" from her latest LP "Court and Spark." The concert ended with a double encore, "The Last Time I Saw Richard" and "Twisted."
The mood of the affair was extremely difficult to put your finger on. It was flawless without doubt. Perhaps it is her elusiveness and complexity that attracts her faithful following.
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