For a notoriously reclusive performer, Joni Mitchell certainly has kept herself active recently.
And in grandiose ways: Two years ago, she ended a lengthy moratorium on touring by embarking on a brief outing with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, while Friday night at the Greek, she performed her latest album -- the atmospheric "Both Sides Now," largely consisting of standards -- in its sequential entirety. She was accompanied by a 70-piece orchestra that included jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Mark Isham.
It was the premiere night of her 12-date trek, and it was breathtaking. Stately yet weathered, her voice almost freakishly husky, Joni expanded the rich, dramatic pacing of her latest effort, taking the audience on a sumptuous "little journey through romantic love" that started not-so-innocently with "You're My Thrill" and peaked with a wizened reading of its title track.
In between were songs sweet ("At Last") and sour ("You've Changed"), with Joni's own "A Case of You" at the show's heart and a crime-noir cover of Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man" as its smoky finale.
The result was sublime but profound, a timeless look at love that was coquettish yet sprinkled with Joni's enigmatically gorgeous grayness. In short, a masterful performance of some beautiful music.