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Joni’s Change for Better Print-ready version

by Janis Kinzie
Duquesne Duke
February 28, 1974
Original article: PDF

In her first concert tour in over two years, Joni Mitchell has added quite a few changes to her once solemn, casual type of performances.

Now, quality back-up band, high-heeled shoes and sequined dress, she is a polished but not slick Joni Mitchell. Gone with the blue jeans is the tension and stage fright that plagued some of her performances.

Her style has reached a higher plateau, enhancing her singing and writing capabilities.

This new direction at first stunned a college-age and older Syria Mosque crowd, but her concert proved to be outstanding and memorable.

The piano and guitar still remain a very integral part of her performance, but now the accompaniments of Tom Scott's L.A. Express compliment her singing.

Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, which include John Geurin [sic], bass (ex-Mother of Invention); Max Bennett, drums (ex-Byrd); Robin [sic] Ford, guitar; and Roger Kelloway, electric piano, began the concert with very unique instrumentals. Scott accompanied Mitchell later in the evening with harmonies, recorder, mouth organ and flute.

Mitchell, dressed in a pale pink backless gown, opened up with "This Flight Tonight," followed by "You Turn Me on I'm a Radio." Cuts from her latest album Court and Spark were predominant in the first half of the show.

With Tom Scott on sax and a few sharp riffs of Robin Moore's [sic] guitar, Mitchell closed the first segment with "Woodstock" which symbolically reflected her own change.

After intermission, Mitchell, in a smoky blue-violet long dress) opened up the second half alone with an audience favorite, "Big Yellow Taxi."

After several other songs, she told stories and built up quite a rapport with the audience, something she had never really done before. Speaking of a party she had been to that had taken on a bad atmosphere, she pondered out loud, was it Watergate that had caused this feeling?...When someone from the audience yelled, "Nixon," Mitchell commented, "I like the way he sits."

She never really sat playing the guitar or piano for a long period of time, it was basically a change of style from up to somber that gave balance to the show.

With the assistance of two of the roadies, Mitchell played the zither and sang two cuts from her Blue album. She described "A Case of You" as "part a love song and part a drinking challenge."

But the outstanding aspect of the concert was the title cut from the Blue album, with an extraordinary exhibition of her voice range, she expressed dismay about a lover and the attitudes and habits that friends have taken on:

"Everybody's saying that hell's the quicket [sic] way of going/I don't think so but I'm gonna take a look around it though/Blue, I love you."

The band returned with a Scott accompaniment on flute, "For Free."

After a few more numbers, Mitchell said, "Well folks, it's boogie time," and with the band did a really "knock-em-out number" which is unheard of in her albums. She came back with an encore, attempting "Blonde In the Bleachers," but didn't complete it since she laughingly claimed the "roadies had put a jinx on it" and proceded [sic] into Annie Ross', "Twisted." This caused the audience to sit up and listen even more closely with a startled delight.

The music was performed with taste and the distinctive style remains. It was a concert that pleased every Joni Mitchell follower.

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