The L.A. Express
NASSAU COLISEUM, UNIONDALE, L.I. - Joni Mitchell's long-awaited reappearance in this area was an offering of material culled mostly from her later albums, the records with which she made the transition from a flaxen-haired folkie to a wealthy woman of the world. Her songs have steadily become those of a more self-assured person as opposed to the love-lorn romanticism of her earlier material. This has alienated many fans and won over many new ones, but as evidenced by her performance, whatever changes Ms. Mitchell has been through have at the very least served to make her a more confident performer of her own striking material.
Backed ably by the L.A. Express, who did an interesting soft jazz rock opening turn as well, or by her own unique guitar and piano playing, Ms. Mitchell gave a stirring display of her vocal style, which has gone from a rather bland and flat voice to a complexly fascinating instrument which slides effortlessly up and down, often dramatically counterpointing the music.
Highlighting the evening were her renditions of "For The Roses" and "Rainy Night House," and from her new album, "Shades Of Scarlet Conquering" and "In France They Kiss On Main Street." She also performed several new songs, "Coyote," "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" and "Furry Sings The Blues" and "Talk To Me," which were exciting despite their unfamiliarity. She performed "The Jungle Line" from "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" with two band members on the drum kit, plus a conga player, all pounding away loudly over a growing bass line. It was practically heavymetal Joni Mitchell, if one can imagine that, and it was extremely effective.
When Ms. Mitchell first appeared, she was dressed in black pants and jacket with her hair tucked up into a black fedora. This outfit, plus her gaunt features, made her resemble David Bowie in one of his recent skins. The effect was cold and eerie and was a clear visual break with her past, but after a few songs she removed the hat and received an ovation as she shook down her blonde hair.
If one had any doubts that were not assuaged by her latest brilliant album, this performance proved that Ms. Mitchell is one of the most talented writers and performers in popular music today.
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